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ON 



AN EXPOSITION AND CRITICISM 



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ALVMNVS BOOK FVND 




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BERGSON 

AN EXPOSITION AND CRITICISM 



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in 2007 with funding from 

IVIicrosoft Corporation 



http://www.archive.org/details/bergsonexpositioOOgerrrich 



Nihil obstat 

Eduardus Myers, 

Censor Deputatus. 
Imprimatur 

^ Edm. Can. Surmont, 

Vic : gen. 
WestMONASTERII, die 15 Maii 1913. 



BERGSON 

AN EXPOSITION AND CRITICISM 

FROM THE POINT OF VIEW 

OF ST THOMAS AQUINAS 



BY 

THOMAS J. GERRARD 

AUTHOR ^F 

CORDS OF ADAM," "THE WAYFARER'S VISION,' 

"the church and eugenics," ETC. 



II OF THE 



LONDON AND EDINBURGH 
SANDS & COMPANY 



ST. LOUIS, MO. 

B. HERDER 

17 SOUTH BROADWAY 



CONTENTS 



CHAF. 

Introduction .... 
I. General Outlines . 
II. The Philosophy of Change . 

III. The Intuitive Method . 

IV. Bergson, Newman, and Aquinas 
V. The New Idea of Freedom . 

VI. FiNALISM 

VII. The Divine Fecundity . 



PAGE 

ix 

I 

12 

34 

67 

100 

135 
169 



INTRODUCTION 

If we examine the various activities of the 
time-spirit, say in the spheres of literature, of 
economics, of sociology, of art, or of religion, 
we shall find that they may be summed up in 
the principle of man's self-perfectibility. Thus 
the chief characteristic of the time-spirit is an 
exaggerated subjectivism and individualism. 
The law of reason is set aside to make place for 
the predominant feeling. Sensation becomes 
the norm of conduct. But even healthy sensa- 
tion is not of sufficient variety to provide man 
with constant satisfaction. When sensation has 
been made the leading factor in a man's life, 
then he soon has recourse to morbid sensation, 
for the sane and healthy feelings soon become 
exhausted. Change becomes the order of the 
day; nor is the question asked whether the 

ix 



X INTRODUCTION 

change be for better or for worse. Anything 
will do provided it be a new sensation. 

A new philosophy has been proposed to the 
world which seeks to explain and to justify these 
aspirations of the time-spirit. Its author is M. 
Henri Bergson, Professor of the College de 
France. It is a revolt against the static aspect 
of things. It proclaims that all is kinetics. 
Bergson himself calls it the philosophy of 
change. Indeed its great success may be set 
down to this consistency with itself, namely, that 
it provides a new sensation. 

Let us not under-estimate the importance of 
Bergson. He has now the whole world for his 
audience. The small room in which he lectures 
in Paris is always crowded, so crowded, in fact, 
that many of his hearers sit through the lecture 
of the professor who precedes Bergson in order 
to ensure a place. This year he gave a course 
of lectures in London, but the great hall of 
University College was unable to accommodate 
one-half of those who came to hear him.^ Then 
from October, 19 13, to October, 191 5, he will 
be Gifford Lecturer in the University of 
Edinburgh. 

* Since then he has lectured in America. 



INTRODUCTION xi 

He speaks always in French, and doubtless 
many of his hearers do not understand his 
language, whilst many more are hopelessly con- 
fused in the attempt to understand his philos- 
ophy. Nevertheless, although so many of his 
subtleties are hard to grasp, yet some of his 
main thoughts do stand out, and are making an 
impression on the people. It is with these that 
we shall concern ourselves. The custom of 
Catholicism is to look at books in their objective 
sense, that is, in the sense in which they are 
taken by the generality of readers. Her interest 
is not in the mental dexterity of the newest 
thinker, but in the salvation of the multitude who 
may be affected by him. Bergson has com- 
manded the attention of such philosophers as 
Arthur James Balfour in England and William 
Tames in America. But through a host of popular 
writers he is gradually making his way to the 
people. The popular propaganda consists in a 
persistent repetition of conclusions rather than fn 
a statement of reasons. Thus does the new 
philosophy evade the common-sense judgment 
of the multitude.. 

The following pages are offered as an attempt 
to place the questions at issue on a basis of 



xii INTRODUCTION 

common sense. And for this purpose I have 
deemed that there could be no better guide than 
that great philosopher of common sense, 
St Thomas Aquinas. 

THOMAS J. GERRARD. 

Herrenwies, 
Baden-Baden, 
August, 191 3. 




BERGSON 

CHAPTER I 

GENERAL OUTLINES 

The chief works of Bergson are three. The 
first is Essai sur les Donnies Immkdiates de la 
Conscience. This was written during the years 
1883 to 1887, and published in 1889. It has 
been translated into English under the title of 
Time and Free Will. In this work the author 
explains one of his most fundamental concepts, 
namely, " duration " {la durie). To those who 
are accustomed to think in scholastic terms, the 
discussion may be said to be, as nearly as pos- 
sible, a discussion between real and imaginary 
time. Real time is the actual flowing duration ; 
whereas imaginary time is but the possible 
flowing duration. The imaginary time can be 
spread out like a map. It can either represent 



2 BERGSON 

the intrinsic flow of real time or the extrinsic 
measurement of the same which we derive from 
the movements of the sun, moon, and stars, or 
by simply looking at our clocks. 

In the Bergsonian method the reader is asked 
to put off all conventions of abstract time, and 
to throw himself into reality. He must feel the 
real concrete duration. Feeling this duration, 
he looks at free-will before the act, not after it. 
Thus (so he is told), although he cannot define 
free-will in abstract terms, yet he can establish 
the fact of it by observation. The scholastic 
reader, however, must be warned that Bergson 
does not mean the same thing by free-will as 
is meant by previous philosophers and plain 
men. He does not use a common coinage. He 
means only certain great acts of choice whereby 
something new is created. 

The second book is Matter and Memory 
(Matiere et Memoire). This was published in 
1896. It is described as an essay on the 
relationship between the body and the spirit. 
Here the author frankly declares himself a 
duaHst. How far he is true to his description 
of himself we shall see later.* The book affirms 
♦ p. 170. 



GENERAL OUTLINES 3 

the reality of spirit and the reahty of matter, 
and by study of the memory seeks to define the 
relationship between the two. It professes to 
avoid the difficulties of realism on the one hand, 
and of idealism on the other, by taking up 3 
position midway between them. " It is a mis- 
take to reduce matter to the perception we have 
of it, a mistake also to make of it a thing able 
to produce in us perceptions, but in itself of 
another nature than they. Matter, in our view, 
is an aggregate of ' images.' And by ' image * 
we mean a certain existence which is more than 
that which the idealist calls a representatiofiy 
but less than that which a realist calls a thing — 
an existence placed half-way between the ' thing ' 
and the ' representation.' " * 

There is indeed a close connection between 
a state of consciousness and the brain, but so 
also is there between a coat and the nail upon 
which it hangs. There is, in fact, no parallelism 
between the psychical and the physiological 
processes. Memory is just the intersection of 
mind and matter, and particularly the memory 
for words. The psychical state is immensely 
wider than the cerebral state. The reader will 

♦ Matter and Memory, p. vii. 



4 BERGSON 

notice in the last statement a preparation for the 
proposition that reason is not the only faculty 
by which knowledge is acquired. 

These two volumes contain the ground-work 
upon which the third is built up, Creative 
Evolution {IJEvolution Creairice). This, by 
far the most important of Bergson's works, was 
published in 1907. Here the doctrine of man's 
self-perfectibility is carried to its utmost possible 
limits. Existence, in the case of a conscious 
being, means nothing less than an unending 
process of self-creation. Nay, the whole uni- 
verse is made up of one evolutionary flux, a 
self-creative process whose future is undeter- 
mined and unknown by any outside intelligence, 
even though it be omniscient. 

Before attempting to criticise the various 
features of this philosophy, let us first make a 
general sketch of it, so that we may see how the 
parts hang together. 

The history of the evolution of life, it tells 
us, shows that man's intelligence is but a depart- 
ment of general consciousness. It is a special 
faculty devised by life for a particular purpose. 
It is a kind of nucleus of a large nebula. It 
deals only with the practical ordinary affairs 



GENERAL OUTLINES 5 

of life. The real glimpse at reality, which philos- 
ophy tries to get, is obtained not by the intelli- 
gence but by intuition. The intelligence, since 
it is created by life for one department of Hfe, 
is consequently unable to see the wL le of life. 
Even scholasticism tells us that an extended 
body is the connatural object of our under- 
standing. That is why we get headaches when 
we occupy ourselves with abstractions for a long 
time without resting. Even M. Bergson has to 
keep using concrete examples to illustrate his 
metaphysical subtleties, and so also shall we 
have to use objects of familiar experience in 
order to show the bearing of scholastic principles 
on the new method. 

In order to get a real knowledge of life, we 
must bring to the task not merely this specialised 
department which we call intellect, but the whole 
field of consciousness. We must look within 
ourselves, imagine ourselves in the middle of 
this field of consciousness, and thus feel the 
vital process. It will evade us, for it is in 
constant flux. But if we keep getting glimpse 
after glimpse of it intuitively, we shall be able 
to obtain the material for a theory of life and 
knowledge. 



6 BERGSON 

The intelligence can only take momentary 
snapshots of the things which are in motion. 
It makes an abstraction from the movement at 
a given point. Thus physical science can never 
comprehend reality, for it must of necessity be 
always behindhand. It can only touch the 
phenomena of life, not life itself. As far as 
physical science is concerned there is a 
corresponding re-action to every action. In 
her eyes there can be no free creation 
whatsoever. All is mechanically balanced. 
But philosophy can do what physical science 
cannot do: it can comprehend life. It 
touches the all-important "now," which gathers 
up the whole of the past and pushes forward 
into the future. Reality, therefore, is not some- 
thing static. It is the consciousness of living. 
It is the intuition of life. It is, therefore, some- 
thing entirely kinetic. 

The intelligence breaks up this living process 
into states, strings them on to an imaginary 
string, the string being an imaginary self. Thus 
whilst the kinetic is the stuff which is real, the 
static is but an instantaneous photograph of it. 
When we look upon these various states as 
spread out in the memory, then we get an idea 



GENERAL OUTLINES 7 

of imaginary Time. But when we look upon the 
present flux of things as the one kinetic reaUty, 
then we get the idea of real Time, Real time 
is the fluxus ipsius nunc, the flow of the " now " 
into the "now." Bergson declares it to be a 
continual becoming, and infers that if we try to 
fix it in our intelligences, we are landed at once 
into a static conception of it. If we would 
perceive its flowing nature we must feel it with 
our whole consciousness, for it is the change 
which we feel that is the ultimate reality. 

We gather all this from looking within our- 
selves and perceiving the constant change. The 
question now arises whether that vital process 
which we perceive within us cannot be predi- 
cated of existence in general. The history of 
evolution shows that forms have succeeded 
forms. Types and species have come into being 
and have passed away, giving place to other 
types and species. Evolution, in a word, is a 
record of continuous change. The whole of life 
is one continuous movement like the movement 
of an individual man. It gathers up like a snow- 
ball all its past which it carries with it. It thrusts 
itself forward into the future, which it creates. 

This is Bergson's opportunity to criticise, on 



8 BERGSON 

the one hand, the mechanical explanation of the 
evolutionary process, and, on the other hand, 
the finalist explanation. Both, he says, are 
weighted with the same fallacy, in that they 
assume that the present is contained and pre- 
determined in the past. Both mistake imaginary 
time for real time. Both take intellectual sym- 
bols for the reality instead of the active vital 
flux. There is nothing creative in either of them. 

A further study of the history of evolution 
shows us two diverse Hnes, one the line of in- 
telligence which has man for its ultimate stage 
of development, the other the line of instinct 
which has its perfection in ants and bees. Where 
instinct flourishes most intelligence flourishes 
least. The nature of instinct insinuates to us 
the nature of that faculty of direct vision which 
we call intuition. It is by this intuition that we 
are able to seize on to reality, that flux, change, 
duration which is so evasive to the intelligence. 

Life is like a reservoir bursting forth into 
several streams. It is always life, but some- 
times it specialises in plant forms, sometimes in 
animal forms, sometimes in human forms. Cir- 
cumstances and opportunities modify the 
creative effort. In this way intelligence came into 



GENERAL OUTLINES 9 

existence. Life needed it for a special purpose 
and so created it. The life which was identical 
with consciousness underwent a kind of con- 
densation forming a luminous centre. The whole 
of life uses a part of itself for a special purpose. 
Here is the most obscure part of Bergson's 
philosophy. Even his most ardent disciples 
admit that he is far from clearly explaining him- 
self. And obscure it must of necessity be, for, 
at least from our point of view, he is trying to 
make the intellect get behind the intellect. 
From his point of view he is trying to make 
intuition see the formation of the intellect. 

The same creative evolution is also made the 
criterion of free-will. The question now is not, 
as formerly, liberty of choice between two alter- 
native courses, but rather whether, when we act, ^ 
we really create. Nay, we cannot pick out of 
our concrete actions those which are free and 
those which are not. We are only free when 
our action is that of our whole personality. 
When I have expressed myself so thoroughly 
as to have created something new in the world, 
then I have acted as a free man. Moreover, 
if the will only does what the intellect declares 
it ought to have done, it is not free. The 



lo BERGSON 

mechanical nature of physical science precludes 
indeterminism. Nor is the freedom here de- 
scribed confined to men. It is a quality of the 
whole universe. Indeed it was the whole of hfe 
(which is the whole of reality) that imparted our 
freedom to us. All things share it in some 
degree. 

" Life as a whole, from the initial impulsion 
that thrust it into the world, will appear as 
a wave which rises, and which is opposed 
by the descending movement of matter. 
On the greater part of its surface, at dif- 
ferent heights, the current is converted by 
matter into a vortex. At one point alone 
it passes freely, dragging with it the obstacle 
which will weigh on its progress but will 
not stop it. At this point is humanity; it 
is our privileged situation. On the other 
hand, this rising wave is consciousness and, 
like all consciousness, it includes potential- 
ities without number which interpenetrate, 
and to which consequently neither the cate- 
gory of unity nor that of multiplicity is 
appropriate, made as they both are for inert 
matter. The matter that it bears along with 
it, and in the interstices of which it inserts 
itself, alone can divide it into distinct indi- 
vidualities. . . . Finally consciousness is 



GENERAL OUTLINES ii 

essentially free; it is freedom itself; but 
it cannot pass through matter without set- 
tling on it, without adapting itself to it." '^ 

Lastly, the same necessity for free creation 
prevents even God from knowing the future. 
God Himself, indeed, is subject to the law of 
perpetual change. He is a kind of centre from 
which worlds shoot out. He is not already 
perfect, but rather a continuity of shooting out. 
Reality consists of change, and if God is real 
He must be for ever changing. 

* Creative Evtlutiott^ pp. 284, 285, 



CHAPTER II 

THE PHILOSOPHY OF CHANGE 

Obviously the first concept that has to be dealt 
with in this philosophy is that which declares 
that reality consists in flux or change. If this 
philosophy be sound then we can say of nothing 
that it " is." Things that seem to be soHd and 
undergo no change are but periods or cuts across 
the flowing. They are but snapshot views of 
reahty, not reality itself. They belong to that 
imaginary time which is a symbol of space, not 
to the real time which is duration. A material 
thing endures without changing, but a living 
thing endures by changing. Now, asks Bergson, 
is the reality which is behind all appearances 
like a material thing that does not change } Or 
is it a living thing which does change ? Then he 
answers that it must be the living stuff, namely, 
the ever-flowing time {la duree). 

12 



THE PHILOSOPHY OF CHANGE 13 

We turn then to St. Thomas for the corrective 
principle. The fallacy which Bergsbn makes 
through the whole of his treatment of change 
is that he does not recognise what St. Thomas 
calls the ratio entitatis. Even a thing which 
is in flux is a whole. There was once a baby 
called Woodrow Wilson. It grew and grew 
and grew until it became the President 
of the United States. But it always remained 
the same person, namely, Woodrow Wilson. 
The change from a gelatinous organism into 
a mighty president never destroyed its 
identity. 

The idea of being is one of the primary ob- 
servations of human experience. It is so simple 
and so clear to the understanding that it is 
incapable of further explanation. One only 
explains the more difficult by the more easy. 
But we cannot explain the one thing " being '* 
by something else, because every something else 
is " being." When we say that a being is that 
which exists, it is almost as if we said that a book 
is a book and a tree is a tree. What we say 
about " being " then is that its nature is obvious, 
we see it, and we steadfastly refuse to have our 
intelligences muddled by pretending that we do 



14 BERGSON 

not see it. We start with this first self-evident 
truth: a being is that which exists. 

But a being must be some sort of being. It 
must be a penknife or a motor-car or an elephant 
or something of that kind. It must have an 
essence. Now an essence is that by which a 
thing is what it is. That by which an animal, 
for instance, is an animal is sensation. Sensa- 
tion, therefore, is the essence_of_an^imal. A 
horse has sensation, therefore a horse is an 
animal. A man has sensation, therefore a man 
is an animal. He is a higher kind of animal 
because of his reason, but nevertheless he is an 
animal. He has the essence of an animal. A 
full-blown being, therefore, is an essence which 
is actually in existence. 

Now we are bound to say of an essence as 
such that it is unchangeable and indivisible. So 
long as a thing is what it is, it is what it is. A 
thing may change as to its integral or accidental 
parts, but not as to its essential parts. If its 
essential parts change, then the thing itself 
ceases to be, and something else begins to be. 
For instance, a pig is always a pig. When it 
is young it is small and thin. After twelve 
months of good feeding it becomes large and 



THE PHILOSOPHY OF CHANGE 15 

fat. A great change has taken place in it, but 
it has not changed into a baboon. In spite of 
all the feeding it remains a pig. The essence 
has remained the same. The reality, namely, 
that by which it is a pig, and by which it endures 
as a pig, is absolutely static. 

Further, the essence is indivisible. It is true 
that you can have half of a carcass of a pig, but 
you cannot have a pig which is half pig and half 
aeroplane. The essence is indivisible. 

The reason given by Bergson for casting aside 
realism is that it involves the conception of that 
imaginary time which is zmreal. Reality is a 
flow. What does not flow is not real. 

" Now, life " he says " is an evolution. We 
concentrate a period of this evolution in a 
stable view which we call a form, and when 
the change has become considerable enough 
to overcome the fortunate inertia of our 
perception, we say that the body has 
changed its form. But in reality the body 
is changing form at every moment; or, 
rather, there is no form, since form is im- 
mobile and the reality is movement. What 
is real is the continual change of form : the 
form is only a snapshot view of a transition. 
Therefore, here again, our perception 



i6 BERGSON 

manages to solidify into discontinuous 
images the fluid continuity of the real. 
When the successive images do not differ 
from each other too much, we consider 
them all as the waxing and waning of a 
single mean image, or as the deformation 
of this image in different directions. And 
to this mean we really allude when we 
speak of the essence of a thing, or of the 
thing itself." * 

Incidentally, we may remark that the above 
description of realism is not true of the moderate 
reaHsm taught by St. Thomas. The image, or 
shape, or form, or phenomenon, be it even the 
mean image, shape, form or phenomenon, is 
not the essence of a thing according to the 
doctrine of moderate realism. The essence is 
the abiding indivisible reality which underlies 
the phenomenon. It is quite true that we can 
only get at the thing in itself through its appear- 
ances. But the distinction is vital. It is the 
distinction between the id quo and the id quod. 
That which we see, taste, and handle is the thing, 
but that through which we see, taste, and handle 
is its appearances. We are not concerned to 

* Creative EvoliUion^ p. 3 1 8. 



THE PHILOSOPHY OF CHANGE 17 

defend exaggerated realism against M. Bergson. 
But, on the other hand, we claim that our 
moderate realism provides for a permanent 
reality without being committed to the absurd- 
ities which are created by making reality consist 
in the eternal flux. 

Keeping the doctrine of moderate realism in 
mind, we can go on to show the right use of 
images. They show to us the reality of space. 
This brings us to the converse of Bergson's 
radical fallacy. In making reality consist in the 
flux of things, he thereby thrusts out of his 
philosophy the concept of space. fiTexaggera- 
ting the time element he practically annihilates 
the spatial element. He puts forward motion, 
that is, change in time as the wholejessence of 
a material thing, ignoring its length, breadth, 
and thickness, which (apart from all else in it) 
are no less its essential factors, even as change 
and permanency are. (Let us grant that all 
bodies are in a state of flux. Change, indeed, 
or liability to change, is of the essence of all 
that is material. But it is not the only factor 
in the essence. If it were, then we might truth- 
fully say that all bodies are the same length, 
for they all consist merely of this flowing point 



i8 BERGSON 

which is " now." But no sane philosopher will 
go so far behind his common sense as to question 
the facts of common observation. Bodies are 
not all the same length. 

There is a most luminous passage in St. 
Thomas which shows the unique position of 
the moderate reahst in being able to use the 
good elements of ideaHsm and realism without 
being caught in their fallacies. He is speaking 
of the intelligences of angels and disembodied 
spirits, and incidentally he shows how the human 
mind, working through the instrumentality of the 
brain, when once it has grasped the idea of a 
thing, can think of the thing irrespective of 
space and time. 

" Nor again " he says " can distance in 
place hinder the knowledge of a disem- 
bodied soul. Distance in place ordinarily 
affects sense, not intellect, except inciden- 
tally, where intellect has to gather its data 
from sense. For while there is a definite law 
of distance according to which sensible 
objects affect sense, terms of intellect, as 
they impress the intellect, are not in place, 
but are separate from bodily m^atter. . . . 
Plainly too neither is time mingled with the 



THE PHILOSOPHY OF CHANGE 19 

intellectual activity of such beings. Terms 
of intellect are as independent of time as 
they are of place. Time follows upon local 
motion, and measures such things only as 
are in some manner placed, in space, and 
therefore, the understanding of a separately 
subsisting intelligence is above time. On 
the other hand, time is a condition of our 
intellectual activity, since we receive know- 
ledge from phantasms that regard a fixed 
time. Hence to its judgments, affirmative 
and negative, our intelligence always 
appends a fixed time, except when it 
understands the essence of a thing. It 
understands essence by abstracting terms 
of understanding from the conditions of 
sensible things : hence in that operation it 
understands irrespectively of time and other 
conditions of sensible things." ^ 

Here then is the precise difference between 
Aquinas and Bergson. Aquinas uses space as 
one of the data provided by sense from which 
the intellect may abstract matter for thought; 
but when once the intellect has got its idea it is 
able to transcend space. Bergson, being ab- 
sorbed by sense, is unable to transcend space, 

• Contra Gentilet, Lib. II., Cap. XCVI. 



20 BERGSON 

and consequently for the purposes of philosophy 
he has no alternative but to destroy it. The 
result is that we are shut off from the external 
world. We can neither derive experience from 
it nor enter into active communion with it. W£- 
are shut up strictly within the limits of our own 
subjective feelings. There being no external 
norm by which to correct our eccentricities, the 
method can lead to nothing but confusion, 
whether it be in truth, goodness or 
beauty. 

We must not, however, be content with show- 
ing the unworkableness of Bergson's conclusions. 
We must get at the fallacy of his reasoning. 
This may Tie conveniently done, by examining 
his criticism of Zeno's flying arrow. By this 
paradox the flying arrow is motionless all the 
time of its flight. If it moves it occupies a 
number of successive positions. But it cannot 
occupy two successive positions unless two 
moments are allowed it. At any given moment, 
therefore, the arrow is at rest at a given point. 
It is, therefore, motionless at each point in its 
course. It is motionless, therefore, all the time 
it is moving. 

Bergson tries, to escape the paradox by deny- 



THE PHILOSOPHY OF CHANGE 21 

ing that the arrow ever is at a certain point in 
the course. 

" Yes " he says " if we suppose that the 
arrow can ever ^^ in a point of its course. 
Yes again, if the arrow, which is moving, 
ever coincides with a position which is 
motionless. But the arrow never is in any 
point of its course. The most that we can 
say is that it might be there, in this sense, 
that it passes there and might stop there. 
It is true that if it did stop there, it would 
be at rest there, and at this point it is no 
longer movement that we should have to 
do with. The truth is that if the arrow 
leaves the point A to fall down at the point 
B, its movement AB is as simple, as inde- 
composable, in so far as it is movement, 
as the tension of the bow that shoots it. As 
the shrapnel, bursting before it falls to the 
ground, covers the zone with an indivisible 
danger, so the arrow which goes from A to 
B displays with a single stroke, although 
over a certain extent of duration, its indivi- 
sible mobility. Suppose an elastic stretched 
from A to B, could you divide its extension ? 
The course of the arrow is this very exten- 
sion ; it is equally simple and equally un- 
divided. It is a simple and unique bound. 



22 BERGSON 

You fix a point C, in the interval passed, 
and say that at a certain moment the arrow 
was in C. If it had been there it would 
have stopped there, and you would no 
longer have had a flight from A to B, but 
two flights, one from A to C and the other 
from C to B, with an interval of rest. A 
single movement is entirely, by the hypo- 
thesis, a movement between two stops; if 
there are intermediate stops it is no longer 
a single movement. At bottom, the illusion 
arises from this, that the movement once 
effected, has laid along its course a motion- 
less trajectory on which we can count as 
many immobilities as we will. 

From this we conclude that the move- 
ment whilst being effected, lays at each 
instant beneath it a position with which it 
coincides. We do not see that the trajec- 
tory is created in one stroke, although a 
certain time is required for it; and that 
though we can divide at will the trajectory 
once created, we cannot divide its creation, 
which is an act in progress and not a thing. 
To suppose that a moving body is at a 
point of its course is to cut the course in 
two by a snip of the scissors at this point, 
and to substitute two trajectories for the 
single trajectory which we were first con- 



THE PHILOSOPHY OF CHANGE 23 

sidering. It is to distinguish two successive 
acts where, by the hypothesis, there is only 
one. In short, it is to attribute to the course 
itself of the arrow everything that can be 
said of the interval that the arrow has 
traversed, that is to say, to admit a priori 
the absurdity that movement coincides with 
immobility." '^ 

In this long and brilliant passage M. Bergson 
takes us into a very old philosophical dispute. 
It has, indeed, been called the mystery of philos- 
ophy. It were, however, a very poor consola- 
tion if, in escaping the paradox of Zeno, we 
must needs plunge into the absurdity of M. 
Bergson. Fortunately we have a distinction 
which rescues us from both. The question of 
motion harks back to that of the continuum. 
Nor does it make any difference whatever to the 
question whether the continuum is in motion or 
at a standstill. We could use equally well for 
our example either a continuous downpour of 
rain or a railway line. We agree wholly with 
M. Bergson that a local motion, namely, the 
transit from one place to another through a 
medium, is continuous and successive. Motion 

* Creative Evolution^ pp. 325-327. 



24 BERGSON 

must be either successive or permanent ; but it 
cannot be permanent because then the begin- 
ning, the middle, and the end of the motion 
would be all one; therefore, it must be suc- 
cessive. It is also continuous. So far we 
agree. 

"^But now comes the parting of the ways. The 
continuum, even though it be a kinetic con- 
tinuum, a continuum in motion, such, for 
instance, as a flowing river, is not, as asserted 
by M. Bergson, indecomposable. There is a 
sense in which it is decomposable. The distinc- 
tion by which we explain this is that proposed 
by Aristotle and adopted by St. Thomas — the 
distinction between actual parts and potential 
parts. The later scholastic textbooks speak of 
these parts respectively as formal and entitative. 
An actual or formal part is one that has both 
entity and limits. A potential or entitative part 
is that which has entity alone but not limits ; it 
is, however, capable of receiving limits. When 
it receives them, either actually or by our 
imagination, then it becomes an actual or formal 
part. 

Now we readily grant, as M. Bergson 
demands, that the entitative parts of a continuum 



THE PHILOSOPHY OF CHANGE 25 

have only a potential existence. That is to say, 
they could exist did we choose to draw the 
limits around them. These limits, however, are 
not necessary for their existence. If they were 
not there already we could not separate them by 
drawing the lines of Hmitation. No one gives 
what he has not got, so neither could a continuum 
give parts if it did not already have them. If 
you want to separate the parts of a hare so as 
to jug it, you must first catch your hare, together 
with all its parts. Nay the very idea of a con- 
tinuum is that it has parts and parts, and parts 
outside parts. Otherwise each part would be 
identical with each other part. " In a con- 
tinuum," says Aristotle, "there are not two 
halves actually but only potentially, because 
if they were in act they would not make a con- 
tinuum." ^ So also St. Thomas : " In the parts 
of a continuum two halves of one line are poten- 
tially double in that double line which is actually 
one." t 

With this distinction we may proceed to 
dissect M. Bergson's treatment of the flight of 

♦ L. 8. phys. c. 8, 263, a. 28. 

I In partibiis contintii duo dimidia unius lineae duplae sunt in 
potentia in ipsa linea dupla quae est una actu. In I, 7. Met., 
lect. 13. 



26 BERGSON 

the arrow. The flight, we grant, is one undivided 
entity. Moreover this is true both of the moving 
arrow and of the motionless trajectory which it 
lays along its course. But the flight has poten- 
tial parts, and each of which has an entity. A 
thing does not lose its entity because it is in 
movement. Nor are those potential parts any 
less real because their limits have not been 
chalked out. Of every one of those parts, even 
though we divide them to infinity, we can say, 
with unfaiHng judgment, that they have existed. 
If I make a journey in a non-stop express from 
New York to Washington, and the train rushes 
through Elizabethport, it is fooling both with 
ideas and with words to say that the train has 
never been in Elizabethport. Even though the 
train did not stop at the city boundaries, yet 
its passage through was as real as if it did 
stop. 

So, too, is it with the arrow. Its movement 
is continuous and successive, but the parts of 
the movement have reality. Otherwise the 
whole movement has no reality. So, too, is it 
with the bursting shrapnel which is said to cover 
a zone with indivisible danger. If the danger 
were indivisible it could not do any harm to a 



THE PHILOSOPHY OF CHANGE 27 

company of men who occupied but a portion of 
the zone. It must destroy a whole zone full or 
none at all. But we know this is not true. 
Therefore the danger zone is divisible. 

The comparison with the stretched elastic is 
a false analogy, for it is comparing local motion 
with molecular motion. Let us take the move- 
ment of each individual molecule of the elastic 
before and after stretching, and we shall find 
that its minute local motion is just as divisible 
and decomposable as that of the railway journey 
from New York to Washington. 

Again, when M. Bergson says, and keeps on 
saying, that by the hypothesis the trajectory is 
created in one stroke, and that, there is one 
movement only, then we distinguish and keep 
on distinguishing. One in act, we grant; one 
in potency, we deny. 

When, however, he flourishes his ultimate 
reduction to absurdity and charges us with 
admitting a priori, that movement coincides with 
immobihty, then we would remind him that we 
are there approaching that philosophical mystery 
in the presence of which it is unwise to be too 
dogmatic. Neither M. Bergson nor any other 
philosopher has solved the problem of saying 



28 BERGSON 

exactly where the static meets the kinetic. We 
all know that according to theory the bouncing 
ball never ceases bouncing, whilst the blatant 
experience of our common sense tells us that 
it does cease bouncing. If we believe that the 
ball is still when we see it still, we are not absurd 
in doing so. Neither can we be held to be 
absurd for attributing reality to the various 
potential parts which make up the one complete 
movement of the arrow from A to B. 

It is the exhibition of such paradoxes as the 
one just proposed by M. Bergson which calls 
forth that undying optimism of the schoolmen, 
confident of the reliability of common sense. It 
never occurred to them to ask what was reality. 
They might distinguish between an ens reale 
and an ens raiionis. But the ens existed some- 
where, either in the mind or out of it. Just as 
they never doubted that things were normally 
what they appeared to be, so they never doubted 
that the things which appeared to exist did exist. 
And that is precisely the attitude which we take 
up now with respect to the philosophy of change. 
We declare that we will not give up the use of 
the verb " to be." Even M. Bergson cannot get 
on without it. His pages bristle with it. To 



THE PHILOSOPHY OF CHANGE 29 

strike it out of our vocabulary is to plunge our- 
selves into the gloomiest pessimism ; because if 
we cannot say of the things which we see and 
feel and think about, that they are, then we 
cannot be sure of any truth whatever. 

But, suggests the Bergsonian philosopher, 
the use of the verb " to be " is but an artificial 
device for practical purposes. No, we reply, 
that lands us into pure pragmatism, another of 
the gloomy dungeons of the modern Hades. 
That is belied by the whole of human psychol- 
ogy. If I cannot be sure in my own mind that 
a certain statement is true, I cannot act as if it 
were true. And if, whilst not being sure that 
ideas represent the things they are supposed to 
represent, I go on acting as if they did represent 
them, then my whole life is one huge 
grimace. 

Bergson was keen enough to note the analo- 
gous fallacy in Kant. Quite pertinently he said 
to him : " If we can know absolutely nothing of 
the thing in itself, how do we know that there 
is such a thing as a ' thing-in-itself ' } " So we 
can thrust the same weapon through the armour 
of Bergson. If we do know the thing in itself, 
how can it be never itself? For if its very 



30 BERGSON 

essence is in a state of flux, always becoming 
something, then it is never itself. If Bergson's 
philosophy is right that the essences of things 
are ever changing, then Kant's philosophy is 
right that we know nothing of the essences 
themselves. The two positions stand or fall 
together. 

So, too, is it with the consequences. Kant 
fructified into the pessimism of Schopenhauer 
and into the anarchy of Nietzsche. Bergson 
must fructify into a still deeper pessimism and 
more chaotic anarchy, because he promises so 
much more than Kant and fulfils so much less. 
Kant did make some compensation for his 
critique of pure reason by undoing it with his 
critique of practical reason. Report says that 
M. Bergson has in preparation a book on ethics. 
It is appalling to contemplate what may be the 
result in conduct if the principles of the philos- 
ophy of change are rigorously applied. History 
relates of another Frenchman who, a hundred 
years previously, both anticipated and applied 
the philosophy of change to the destiny of 
nations. When Napoleon wanted an excuse for 
taking Holland, he said the Alps belonged to 
him ; but Holland had been washed down from 



THE PHILOSOPHY OF CHANGE 31 

the Alps; therefore Holland belonged to him. 
He confused, with his tongue in his cheek, the 
point of view of the geographer with the point 
of view of the physicist. 

Geography tells us that countries are known 
according to their latitude and longitude on the 
earth's surface, whilst molecular physics tells us 
that particles of mud are known independently 
of their position on the earth's surface. If some 
Swiss mud has been carried from the source to 
the mouth of the Rhine, it does not follow that 
the essence of Switzerland has been changed 
into the essence of Holland. Switzerland 
remains up there and Holland down here, the 
philosophy of change notwithstanding. 

In thus insisting on the value of the static 
element in nature, we would not wish to appear 
to undervalue the kinetic element. Nay, we 
claim that the kinetic element cannot have its 
full kinetic value unless it is considered in its 
right relation to the static. Bergson made a 
cardinal mistake in supposing that " being " and 
" becoming " were mutually exclusive. They are 
not. " Being " is a genus of which " becoming " 
is a species. Likewise " going," " desisting," 
" ceasing " are species of the same genus. When 



32 BERGSON 

a thing becomes, it is in a state of becoming. 
The kinetic and the static elements of the process 
instead of being mutually exclusive are mutually 
complementary. If a thing could not be in a 
state of becoming, it could not become at all. 
Indeed the very reality of the flux depends upon 
the ultimate reality of the static concept that 
the flux is. 

When the citizen of St. Louis crosses over to 
East St. Louis he sees the mighty Mississippi 
flowing beneath him. The flux is tk^re. When 
he comes back next day all the water which he 
saw yesterday is gone, and another great volume 
has taken its place. A change has happened. 
But it is not the Amazon upon which he fixes 
his gaze. Nor is it the mere bed of the Missis- 
sippi which has remained. It is the Mississippi 
itself, the flowing continuum, the continuous 
flow of one and the same thing. Either the flux 
is or it is not. If it is not it has no reality. But 
it has reality. Therefore it is. This is our 
foundation. We will have our wits about us. 
We will turn our faces about and look this way 
and that, but all the time we shall sit tight 
on the one enduring reality, namely, that 
which is. 



THE PHILOSOPHY OF CHANGE 33 

How such a radical confusion of thought could 
arise as to obscure this elementary dictate of 
common sense, we propose to show in the next 
chapter. It is due to the exaggerated subjectivism 
which under-estimates the use of the intellect, 
and is known as Bergson's intuitive method. 



CHAPTER III 

THE INTUITIVE METHOD 

The two most prominent ideas in the philos- 
ophy of Bergson are time and intuition. In the 
previous chapter we have dealt with his concep- 
tion of time. We have seen that he places the 
very stuff of reality in this real time which is the 
flow of the " now," the everlasting becoming, the 
perpetual change. We have seen that he casts 
out of the realm of reality the concept of space. 
Space implies that bodies are side by side, 
that is, discontinuous, whereas real reality is 
continuous, an indivisible flux. We argue that 
such analysis of reality is fraught with meta- 
physical, physical, and moral absurdities. 

We have suggested too that these absurdities 
are the outcome of a false method of philoso- 
phising, namely, Bergson's particular method of 
intuition. To substantiate that suggestion is 
the purpose of this chapter. Bergson claims that 

34 



THE INTUITIVE METHOD 35 

the intellect is neither the supreme nor the only 
method of acquiring knowledge. Certain knowl- 
edge of the highest and most transcendental 
kind can only be obtained by a peculiar kind of 
intuition. 

In order to find out the respective functions 
of intelligence and intuition, we must first look 
at the history of their evolution. Here, at the 
very threshold of the question, M. Bergson 
clashes with all previous evolutionists. Hitherto 
we have been asked to believe that from the 
primordial slime there was evolved first the lower 
forms of life, such as the amoeba and the 
protococcus, then the higher forms of the inver- 
tebrates, then the vertebrates with some sort 
of a monkey as the highest but one, and finally 
man as a descendant from a simian ancestor. 

M. Bergson now says that this is all wrong. 
The three orders of Hfe, vegetative, instinctive, 
and rational, are not three successive stages of 
one and the same line of development, but 
rather three divergent directions of one life 
which split up as it grew. We hear nothing of 
natural selection as the cause of the different 
orders and species. It is the " original impetus " 
which does everything. The inert matter which 



36 BERGSON 

it has to overcome serves to modify it. " The 
animate forms that first appeared were therefore 
of extreme simplicity. They were probably tiny 
mlatters of scarcely differentiated protoplasm, 
outwardly resembling the amoeba observable 
to-day, but possessed of the tremendous internal 
push that was to raise them even to the highest 
forms of life. That in virtue of this push the 
first organisms sought to grow as much as 
possible, seems likely. But organised matter 
has a limit of expansion that is very quickly 
reached; beyond a certain point it divides in- 
stead of growing." * 

The aptitude of matter to divide was not, 
however, the chief cause of the great divisions. 
The real causes were those which life itself 
bore within its bosom. We can perceive this in 
our own lives. We feel various incompatible 
tendencies all striving for expression. We 
choose some and abandon others. So the great 
initial life chooses and bifurcates. Of the many 
bifurcations most have become bhnd alleys, but 
two or three have become highways, one the 
highway of the plants, another the highway of 
brutes, and another the highway of man. Only 

* Creative Evohttion, p. 104. 



THE INTUITIVE METHOD 37 

in the last one, which leads through the verte- 
brates, has the passage been wide enough to 
allow free movement to the full breath of life. 
The chief radical difference between a vegetable 
and an animal is that the vegetable manufac- 
tures its own food directly from mineral sub- 
stances, whilst the animal has to have the 
organic food ready made. These phenomena 
imply that the vegetable may remain stationary, 
whilst the animal must move about in search of 
food. Hence, argues M. Bergson, "the same 
impetus that has led the animal to give itself 
nerves and nerve centres must have ended, in 
the plant, in the chlorophyllian function." ^ 

Again, just as one great stream of life split up 
into plants and animals, so the animal stream 
split up into the anthropoids and the vertebrates. 
In the line of the anthropoids the insect was its 
culmination, whilst in the line of the vertebrates 
the culmination was man. Now it so happens 
that the most highly developed instinct is found 
amongst the insects. Ants and bees, for 
instance, have instinct much more wonderful 
than that of cats or foxes. Hence M. Bergson 
infers that the evolution of the animal kingdom, 

* Creative Evolntion, p. 120. 



38 BERGSON 

with the exception of certain retrogressions 
towards vegetative Hfe, is a bifurcation of ways, 
one leading to instinct, the other to intelHgence. 

At this point we have to institute a comparison 
between instinct and intelHgence. In the first 
place they both come under the influence of the 
philosophy of change, inasmuch as they must be 
described as tendencies and not things. Just 
as we see plant life and animal life interpene- 
trating each other, so that there is no complete 
severance between them, so also we see instinct 
and intelligence interpenetrating each other. 
Neither lends itself to rigid definition. Never- 
theless that which is instinctive in instinct is 
different from and opposite to that which is 
intelligent in intellect. What does the difference 
and opposition consist in? 

First it may be noticed that the instruments 
which ifistinct uses~ are much more perfect than 
those which intelligence uses, but they have 
much less adaptability. Instinct is a faculty 
which uses organised implements, whereas 
intelligence is a faculty which uses unorganised 
implements. In proportion as man's implements 
become organised, so much the less intelligence 
is required in the use of them. Consider, for 



THE INTUITIVE METHOD 39 

instance, the difference between the thought 
required to make a pair of shoes by hand and 
that to make a pair by machine. Instinct, 
therefore, is speciahsed. It uses a special 
instrument for a special purpose. Intelligence, 
however, has a much wider range. It may have 
clumsier tools to work with, but it can adapt 
them to an indefinite variety of operations. 
Imagine how many things a sailor can do with 
his pocket-knife. 

This difference of instruments calls forth a 
difference of knowledge. If intelligence has 
but an unorganised instrument with which to 
work, it must seek out ways and means of adap- 
ting the instrument to different ends. Intelli- 
gence, therefore, is a knowledge of the relations 
of things. It sees the connection between 
subject and predicate. It makes inferences. 
Instinct, on the other hand, being generally 
unable to observe the relations of things, has 
a direct knowledge of the things themselves. 
It is a sympathy. Its direction is quite the 
opposite of that of intelligence. It touches Hfe 
directly, whilst intelligence has only to do with 
inert matter. When bees are born they know 
their business immediately and directly. Their 



40 BERGSON 

knowledge is perfect from the first, and inde- 
pendent of experience. It is this power of direct 
insight into Hfe which makes instinct so much 
like intuition. And it is by observing the opera- 
tions of instinct that we are able to put ourselves 
in the way of seeing things by intuition. 

Before' passing to the consideration of intui- 
tion itself, it will be well to give some account of 
the function of the intellect, for the sphere of 
the operations of the intellect is more familiar 
to us, and therefore having written this off, we 
shall better be able to discern the range of 
intuition. 

The best illustration of what Bergson believes 
the intellect to be Hke is the cinematograph. 
The intellect does not deal with reality directly ; 
does not touch that unceasing flow of time. It 
only takes snapshot views of it, and does this so 
constantly and readily that the snapshot views 
may be regarded as succeeding each other on a 
long cinematographical film. The intellect is 
only a part of the mind. It is to the mind what 
the eye is to the body. The body formed the 
eye because it needed it. So, too, the mind 
formed the intellect, because it wanted it for a 
special purpose. This purpose is to establish 



THE INTUITIVE METHOD 41 

relations. The operation of the intellect is 
called forth by the needs of action. 

The intellect aims, first of all, at constructing. 
For this purpose it uses only inert matter, and 
if by any chance it uses organised matter it 
treats it as inert. The intellect can deal only 
with the solid, for all else escapes it by reason 
of fluidity. Now for the practical purposes of 
life we have to take snapshots of the living 
flux; deal with them as having spatial quality; 
regard them as provisionally final and as so 
many units. It is as if we had actually taken a 
kodak picture of a man vaulting over a bar. 
We know quite well that he does not remain in 
mid-air, but for the practical purpose of showing 
our friends at home what we have seen on th^ 
athletic field, we make this static photograph' 
Curiously enough we are inclined to look upon 
the discontinuous pictures of life, which our 
intellect makes, as the one reality. But that is 
simply because such things fix our attention and 
rule our action. " Of the discontinuous alone 
does the intellect form a clear idea!' * 

So, too, it is with regard to the objects upon 
which we act. We want to know whither a 

* Creative Evolution^ p. i6. 



42 BERGSON 

certain train is going, and whether it will stop 
at our station. Its rate of progress is quite a 
secondary matter. This shows that we fix our 
minds on the end or meaning of the movement. 
We like to have a design of it as a whole. It 
is so much easier for us to plan our journey if we 
have a map as well as a time-table. The intel- 
lect, therefore, is not meant to put itself into 
the midst of reality for the thrill of feeling the 
movement of the train ; not for pure philosophy 
and metaphysics, but simply for the practical 
purposes of life, to show us how quickly we can 
get to the city, make a fair pile of money, and 
come home and gaze during the calm evening 
upon clean vital becoming. The intellect deals 
with the static and unchangeable simply because 
it is made that way. " Of immobility alone does 
the intellect fonn a clear idea" *^ 

By manipulating unorganised, inert, discon- 
tinuous, and immobile solids the intellect is able 
to fabricate things. Indeed this is its chief 
characteristic, that it has an unlimited power of 
decomposing according to any law, and of 
recomposing into any system. 

Then, too, it has learnt the use of words. 

* Creative Evolution, p. 164. 



THE INTUITIVE METHOD 43 

These, too, are mobile. They can be used first 
of one concrete thing, then of another, and also 
of ideas. Through means of language the in- 
telligence can penetrate the inwardness of its 
own work. Nay, when it once sees that it can 
create ideas, there is no object concerning 
which it does not wish to have an idea. Thus 
it seeks to employ itself outside practical action. 
" There are things that intelligence alone is 
able to seek, but which, by itself, it will never 
find. These things instinct alone could find; 
but it will never seek them." "^ Intellect tries, 
indeed, to embrace life and thought, but it fails 
in its endeavour, because of its nature it seeks 
to have things distinct and clear, that is discon- 
tinuous ; and this it cannot have because life is 
continuous. The " intelligible world " which 
the intellect makes for itself resembles the 
world of solids, but it is more diaphanous. The 
concepts are easier to deal with than images of 
concrete things ; yet somehow they are not the 
perception itself of things, but the representa- 
tion of the act by which the intellect is fixed on 
them. They are symbols, not images. 

Hence logic is purely symbolic, and triumphs 

* CrecUive Evolution^ p. 159. 



44 BERGSON 

most in that science which deals with solid 
bodies, namely, geometry. Whenever logic 
works outside this science, so Hable is it to go 
wrong and miss life that it needs to be constantly 
corrected by common sense. So natural is it 
for intellect to look outside Hfe, and fix itself 
on inert matter, that it is sheerly an unnatural 
process for it to look inward upon life and to 
think that continuous real mobility, that creative 
evolution which is life. The chief negative 
character of the intellect is its natural inability 
to com'^rehend life. 

Seeing, then, that intellect gives us but a 
distorted view of life, how shall we get a real 
direct vision of life } The nature and the func- 
tioning of instinct suggest that it must be by 
something analogous to this. 

" Instinct is sympathy. If this sympathy 
could extend its object and also reflect upon 
itself, it would give us the key to vital 
operations — just as intelligence, developed 
and disciplined, guides us into matter. 
For — we cannot too often repeat it — in- 
telligence and instinct are turned in oppo- 
site directions, the former towards inert 
matter, the latter towards life. Intelligence, 



THE INTUITIVE METHOD 45 

by means of science, which is its work, will 
deliver up to us more and more completely 
the secret of physical operations ; of life it 
brings us, and, moreover, only claims to 
bring us, a translation in terms of inertia. 
It goes all round life, taking from outside 
the greatest possible number of views of it, 
drawing it into itself instead of entering into 
it. But it is to the very inwardness of life 
that intuition leads us — by intuition I mean 
instinct that has become disinterested, self- 
conscious, capable of reflecting upon its 
object and of enlarging it indefinitely." ^ 

I will here make confession, and say that it 
took me some considerable time to see what M. 
Bergson meant by this new method of observing 
reahty. I had been so accustomed to regard 
the intelligence as the only faculty for acquiring 
real knowledge, that I began to have a sinister 
foreboding that this new method of knowing 
things might have something to do with the 
stomach. 

" Consciousness of living is the intuition of 
life. It is reahty." I read these words over 
and over again, yet unable to fathom their pro- 

♦ Creative Evohitisn^ p. i86. 



46 BERGSON 

fundity. Then the light came to me in this 
wise: One night as I was in the train coming 
from Maldon, a man whose heart was glad with 
wine (or something else) turned to me and said : 
" I am glad I am alive, sir, aren't you ? " I hesi- 
tated a moment, and then I put my hand on his 
shoulder and said : " You have got it." In a 
moment of exalted confusion he had seen the 
central truth of the new philosophical method. 

Consciousness of living is the intuition of Hfe. 
It is a psychological phenomenon which all phil- 
osophies have recognised, and which every man 
may observe for himself. M. Bergson's alleged 
discovery is not the fact itself, but the supposed 
enormous significance of the fact. He asks us 
to make a wider use of this faculty of gazing 
directly at Hfe. Like the man in the Maldon 
train, we are too liable to be content with the 
first glimpse of it, to turn our backs upon it, and 
to seek our satisfaction in discursive reasoning. 
We need to wake up and see in this intuitive 
vision the philosophical instrument far excel- 
lence. By this method we can lay hold on 
reality itself. Kant thought that we could not 
touch the thing in itself because space and imag- 
inary time were in the way. But Bergson 



THE INTUITIVE METHOD 47 

having discarded space and the images of time, 
and having made real time the one reaHty, is 
able to see it by direct vision. Thus at last we 
have a real metaphysic, a knowledge of the 
Ding-an-sich, moving about with no Erschein- 
ung to veil it from our view. 

At first it might seem that this direct vision 
of life might give us nothing more than the 
elementary idea of the eternal flow of things. 
But that is because we have not yet made any 
serious effort. What, however, gives us hope 
is an analogous process in the world of aesthetics. 
The layman in art sees only the features of the 
objects which strike his eye. But the artist sees 
the intention of life, the simple movement that 
runs through them, binds them together, and 
gives them significance. " This intention is just 
what the artist tries to regain, in placing himself 
back within the object by a kind of sympathy, 
in breaking down by an effort of intuition the 
barrier that space puts between him and his 
model." ^ A sonata by Beethoven does not 
consist of vibrations, or melodies, or chords, nor 
yet in the technique of the pianist who plays, 
but in one undivided and indivisible whole which 

* Creative Evolution, p. 186, 



48 BERGSON 

the composer saw at one glance by intuition, and 
which the performers, if they are to execute it 
properly, must see in like manner. 
I So also, it is suggested, must we try to see the 
/ problems of life. The intuitions of art never 
/ get further than the individual, but the intuitions 
of philosophy may conceivably get to universals 
of very rich content. But let us not expect too 
much. Intuition will never have so wide a range 
as science, nor yet will its knowledge be so 
definite and clear. Why ? Because " intelli- 
gence remains the luminous nucleus around 
which instinct, even enlarged and purified into 
intuition, forms only a vague nebulosity." Let 
us take particular note of this sentence, for it 
explains so very much of the hazy thought of the 
day, and also why so many people are turning to 
Catholicism for something intellectual, solid, 
and fundamental. 

Thus we have arrived at the conclusion which 
Bergson promised us in the beginning: Before 
we can have a theory of knowledge, we must 
first have a theory of life. The theory of life 
was that an initial impulse was thrust out from 
some centre, and that this impulse was identical 
with life, consciousness, time, and reality. The 



THE INTUITIVE METHOD 49 

life thus continually flowing bifurcated, forming 
itself into special streams for special needs and 
special purposes. 

In man the stream had two distinct functions 
to perform, namely, to deal with the objective 
world and with the subjective world. For these 
purposes it created respectively the faculties of 
intelligence and intuition. From these two 
faculties taken together, as being elements of 
the one consciousness, we derive our theory 
of knowledge. Intelligence needs the service of 
intuition, whilst intuition needs the service of 
intelligence. 

" On the one hand, indeed, if intelligence 
is charged with matter, and instinct with 
life, we must squeeze them both in order to 
get the double essence from them ; meta- 
physics [he means knowledge gained by in- 
tuition] is, therefore, dependent on theory 
of knowledge. But, on the other hand, if 
consciousness has thus split up into intui- 
tion and intelligence, it is because of the 
need it had to apply itself to matter at the 
same time as it had to follow the stream of 
life. The double form of consciousness is 
then due to the double form of the real, 
and theory of knowledge must be dependent 



so BERGSON 

upon metaphysics. In fact, each of these 
two lines of thought leads to the other ; they 
form a circle, and there can be no other 
centre to the circle but the empirical study 
of evolution." ^ 

We are deeply grateful to M. Bergson for this 
last word, for it gives us the key to the criticism 
we are about to make of his theory. In the 
formation of his theory he has depended very 
largely on the biological science. 

We have followed with fascination his long 
disquisitions on the wonders of plant and animal 
life. But the selective principle in the choice of 
his examples has undoubtedly been the deter- 
mination to demonstrate a continuous evolution 
due to intrinsic impulse. Hence such a thorough- 
going evolution as that of Herbert Spencer 
is cast aside, because it is not continuous 
enough. His evolution was merely an intel- 
lectual re-construction of evolution. " Such, 
however, is Spencer's illusion. He takes 
reality in its present form; he breaks it to 
pieces; he scatters it in fragments which he 
throws to the winds ; then he ' integrates ' these 
fragments and * dissipates their movement.* 

♦ Creative Evolution^ p. i88. 



THE INTUITIVE METHOD 51 

Having imitated the whole by a work of mosaic, 
he imagines he has retraced the design of it, and 
made the genesis." ^ Spencer had started off to 
remount and redescend the course of the uni- 
versal becoming, but no sooner had he started 
than he turned off short and gave us a picture 
of mosaic dispensation, formal parts side by side 
with formal parts, a picture whose veriest char- 
acteristic was discontinuity. 

Now it so happens that the biological science 
has, in these latter days, given a very rude 
shock to all evolution which professes to be 
continuous. 

The discoveries of Gregor Johann Mendel 
have come as a bolt from the blue. Their whole 
tendency is to show that whatever else may be 
said of evolution, it cannot be said to be con- 
tinuous. The example first used in experimen- 
tation by Mendel himself shall serve to illustrate 
what we mean. This example is the ordinary 
edible pea, Pisum sativum. Taking two 
varieties of this, the tall and the dwarf, he cross- 
fertilised them. The first generation of hybrids 
turned out to be all tall. Then these hybrids 
in turn were sown, and the result was that both 

♦ Creative Evohttion^ p. 385. 



52 BERGSON 

tall and dwarf plants grew up. Moreover, these 
tall and dwarf grandchildren appeared in definite 
proportion, three tall specimens for every one 
dwarf. 

Mendel experimented on 1064 plants, out of 
which 787 appeared as tall and 277 as dwarfs, 
that is three to one approximately. To the 
character which remained during the three gen- 
erations, namely, tall, Mendel gave the name of 
dominant, whilst to that which disappeared or 
rather remained latent in the middle generation 
he gave the name of recessive. 

From these experiments two laws are de- 
duced. The first is that when two races 
possessing two antagonistic peculiarities are 
crossed, the hybrid exhibits only one, and as 
regards this character the hybrid is undistin- 
guishable from its parent. The second is that 
in the formation of pollen or egg-cell, the two 
antagonistic peculiarities are segregated, so that 
each ripe germ-cell carries either the one or the 
other of these pecuHarities, but not both. Thus 
the laws positively exclude any intermediate 
conditions. Discontinuity, therefore, is of their 
very essence. Further, what is true of inheri- 
tance is also true of variation. Professor Bate- 



THE INTUITIVE METHOD 53 

son, the apostle of Mendelism in England, does 
speak of continuous and discontinuous variation. 
But of the continuous variations he says that 
they are very slight, in fact almost insensible, 
differences of size, colour, etc., in a series of 
individuals having the same parent. But these 
fluctuate about a given mean. They never 
shade off into other forms. Thus where con- 
tinuity does appear, it would seem only to accen- 
tuate the fact of discontinuity. And when the 
discontinuity affects both inheritance and varia- 
tion, there is a double reason for doubting a 
continuous evolution. 

We are quite aware that Mendel's laws are 
not universally accepted in the scientific world. 
Nor have they, owing to the complexity of inter- 
fering circumstances, been widely verified in 
the qualities of the human species. But they 
have assumed an importance so great in the 
scientific world, and have received such marvel- 
ous confirmation by the experiments of De Vries, 
Bateson, and Biff en, as to throw the gravest 
possible doubt on that theory of life from which 
M. Bergson develops his theory of knowledge. 
The chief note of Bergson is continuity, whereas 
the chief note of Mendel is discontinuity. I 



54 BERGSON 

have searched in vain through the works of 
M. Bergson for some reference to the theory 
of Mendel. 

What is made doubtful by a study of biology 
is made more than doubtful by a study of 
psychology. With regard to this theory of life, 
which M. Bergson takes as his foundation, we 
may ask what does he mean by life ? He tells 
us : " Existence in time is life." Once again he 
changes the current coinage. It is quite true 
that we now speak of the life of a motor-car, 
and when a medical practitioner is calculating 
whether motor-cars or horses are the more 
economical, he considers their lives op the Berg- 
sonian principle of existence in time. Which 
will last the longer and which will cost the less ? 
But, according to the current use of words and 
ideas, the Hfe of a motor-car is but metaphorical 
life when compared with the life of a horse. 
The chauffeur needs no whip because the motor- 
car has no feelings and no consciousness. Such 
a kind of hfe then can be no prerequisite for a 
theory of knowledge. On the contrary there is 
required a theory of knowledge before the 
motor-car can have any life at all, metaphorical 
or otherwise. The construction of a motor- 



THE INTUITIVE METHOD 55 

car is wholly the outcome of mechanical 
science. 

Next we must eliminate from the question the 
life of plants. We may readily grant that there 
are borderland specimens of plants showing 
signs of sensation. But taking the whole vast 
order of the vegetable world, we have to say of 
it that it has no sensation and no consciousness. 
An oak tree does not squeak or kick if you stick 
pins into it. That stream of life, therefore, 
which is purely vegetable has no exigency and 
tendency to concentrate for itself a nucleus of 
intelligence. The vegetable life is no pre- 
requisite for a theory of knowledge. 

The question is thus narrowed down to one of 
feeling and intelligence. But here M. Bergson 
unfortunately uses words of double or vague 
meaning. For instance, he uses the word 
" mind " as including instinct and intelligence, 
whereas hitherto mind has always been taken to 
exclude instinct or feeling. So also he speaks 
of intuition as instinct that has become self- 
conscious and capable of reflecting on its object, 
whereas at other times he speaks of it as the 
power of direct vision. 

Now a faculty cannot be sense and intelli- 



56 BERGSON 

gence at the same time, because these two facul- 
ties, whether we regard them as things or as 
tendencies, are essentially distinct. Neither 
can a faculty act directly and reflexly at the same 
time. If, however, M. Bergson means that 
intuition can act first directly and then reflexly, 
then so far he is intelligible. We understand, 
but we do not agree with him. 

As we have already remarked, the most ardent 
students of M. Bergson complain of his obscurity 
concerning the borderland of intelligence and 
intuition. 

We must try, therefore, to disentangle the 
matter for him. We must insist on the essen- 
tial distinction between intellect and sense. 
Imagination is sense, and instinct is sense 
because both pertain directly to the organic 
faculty. The intellect undoubtedly depends 
upon them for material wherewith to think. 

But the consciousness of comparative and 
judicial acts, together with the consciousness of 
universal and abstract concepts, proves conclu- 
sively that we have a suprasensuous faculty. If 
I see a horse and a cow I can not only enjoy the 
sight of them, but I can make comparisons, 
observe how far they are like or unlike each 



THE INTUITIVE METHOD 57 

other. So, too, I can pass from this or that 
horse in particular to the concept " horse " in 
general. Consequently we must have some 
power, distinct from sense, by which we do these 
things. That power we call intellect. 

With this distinction we may examine M. 
Bergson's picture of consciousness : " Intelli- 
gence is the luminous nucleus around which 
instinct, even enlarged and purified into intui- 
tion, forms only a vague nebulosity." That part 
of consciousness, therefore, which is not intelli- 
gence is instinct or intuition. Instinct and 
intuition, therefore, must be sensation. And 
this is what M. Bergson repeats over and over 
1 again. We are to set our intelligence aside, 
because that deals only with solids and the 
representations of reality, and we are to put 
ourselves into the eternal flux and feel the 
eality of it. That consciousness of living, 
therefore, which is the dawning of a new phil- 
osophy, according to M. Bergson, has been 
rightly named in the scholastic system as the 
sensus intimus, and rightly defined as the faculty 
by which we recognise as our own the various 
modifications of our senses. 

This was the sense which had just functioned 



it J 



58 BERGSON 

in the man in the Maldon train. Then his 
intellect reflected upon it, and the reflection 
caused him the joy which he so ardently wished 
to share with me. Moreover, this explanation 
of intuition as a feeling is the one which has 
been generally taken by those who have tried 
to put M. Bergson's doctrine to a practical 
application. 

When asked for reasons for certain views, 
they reply that they have arrived at their con- 
clusions by another way than that of reason. 
They have seen the truth intuitively. They 
feel that it must be true, and therefore it is true. 
And this is just where the danger of M. Berg- 
son's doctrine comes in. 

Naturally such an exaggeration of feeling 
would require a corresponding debasement of 
reason. This, therefore, shall be our next 
point, to examine the various limits which have 
been set to reason by M. Bergson. 

Our first objection is to the statement that it 
is of the discontinuous alone that the intellect 
forms a clear idea. There is a fallacy here 
which is due to the confusing of imagination 
with intelligence. When we try to imagine an 
object in motion, especially if the motion be 



THE INTUITIVE METHOD 59 

^ rapid, the phantasm appears to us as somewhat 

\ blurred. The internal sense of the imagination 

' is very similar to the external sense of eyesight. 

The eye requires time to adjust itself to rapid 

motion, and if this time is not allowed, the 

moving object appears as fogged. If I tie a 

, piece of wood to the end of a string and whiz it 

'' round, the wood will appear as a circle. 

The Futurist painters ^ made exactly the 
same fallacy when they tried to express move- 
ment through means of paint on canvas. Thus 
if they wanted to paint a man in the act of 
swimming they painted two men and smudged 
one into the other. Pictorial representation, 
jvhether on a photographic film or on a painter^s 
canvas, or on the retinue of the eye, or on the 
substance of the brain, requires time and space, 
requires to be discontinuous, if it is to be clear. 
But not so with intellectual re£resentation. 

The Ihtettect, whilst using time and space as 
its handmaids, is able to transcend them. I can 
conceive of local motion even apart from the 
object which is moving. I can conceive of life 
even apart from the animal which lives. The 
fallacy which is here committed by M. Bergson 

♦ See article in the Dud/in Review^ July, 1912. 



6o BERGSON 

is that known as the ilHcit transit from the onto- 
logical to the logical order. He mixes up 
sensitive phantasy with intellectual thought. 

So also is it with the statement, that of immo- 
bility alone does the intellect form a clear idea. 
This statement is connected with the previous 
one by the doctrine that motion is continuous 
and indivisible, a doctrine which we disproved in 
our first chapter. Without, however, referring to 
that doctrine or its refutation, we can say directly 
that thejntelljctxan get a clear idea of mobility. 
I can compare, for instance, mobility with 
immobility, and I can recognise "predsely, 
distinctly, and clearly that there is as much 
difference between them as there is between 
chalk and cheese. It is the imagination that 
renders the immobile clearly and the mobile con- 
fusedly. The intellect can have clear concep- 
tions of both. Once again, M. Bergson has 
been the victim of the iUicit transit, mistaking 
that which is spiritual for that which is 
material. ^^ "''^^ "^ ^ 

With what M. Bergson says of the intellect's 
unlimited power of decomposing ideas according 
to any law and of recomposing them into any 
system, we cordially agree. In our language 



THE INTUITIVE METHOD 6i 

we call it division and composition. Here we 
come to the point where intellect meets 
intuition. 

We object to the statement that the chief 
negative character of the intellect is its natural 
inabihty to comprehend life. 

First, M. Bergson misrepresents the power of 
the intellect when he says that its concepts are 
not the perception itself of things. He wanders 
still further from the truth when he says that 
these conceptions are something less than 
images, and are, in fact, merely symbols. He 
falls into an error somewhat similar to that of 
Kant. Kant said that the intellect could know 
nothing of the things in themselves, but only 
of their appearances. Bergson says that intui- 
tion alone sees the things in themselves. The 
intellect does not. The intellect sees only 
symbols of the things, and symbols, moreover, 
which are not images. That means that our 
intellectual concepts have so little correspon- 
dence with the things they represent that they 
are not even natural symbols of them, but merely 
conventional symbols. 

The refutation of this doctrine is the same as 
the refutatioiToT'that of Kanir It is an appeal 



62 BERGSON 

to common sense and to the universal judgment 
of mankind. When I put my teeth into a rosy 
apple, can I be quite sure that it really is an 
apple, and that it is not possibly a cricket ball, 
which is the conventional symbol for an apple? 
When I am talking to President Wilson 
can I be quite sure that it really is Mr Wilson, 
and not possibly Mrs Eddy, who may be the 
conventional symbol for Mr Wilson. 

No, we decline to be moved from that 
mediaeval scholastic intuition which is the 
common sense of all nations, always and every- 
where, the semper^ ubiqzie et ah omnibus all 
taken together, namely, that things are normally 
what they appear to be, and not merely conven- 
tional symbols of the same. 

Hence although we do not go so far as to say 
that the intellect i^ naturally able to comprehend 
life, yet we do go so far as to say that it is ias 
naturally able to comprehend life as it is to com- 
prehend the solid objects of the external world 
or anything else at all. The intellect does not 
comprehend things in the sense that it knows 
everything that can possibly be known about 
them. But it does comprehend them in the 
sense that it knows their essence, namely that 



THE INTUITIVE METHOD 63 

by which they are what they are. And to this 
kind of comprehension life is no exception. 

The intellect has no difficulty whatever in 
formulating its definition of life — the activity by 
which a being moves itself. And when asked 
for further explanation it has no difficulty in 
saying that the word " move " includes all forms 
of change or alteration, and includes the energies 
of feeling, intelligence, and will, as well as local 
motion ; and that the word " activity " is under- 
stood as having an immanent character as 
opposed to transient, that is, beginning and 
ending as an internal principle. 

All this belittling of intelligence, however, is 
but the natural result of M. Bergson's theory of 
life. In trying to make intuition a continuation 
of instinct he got on to the wrong line. 
Intuition is a mental faculty, whereas he tried 
to make it a sensitive faculty. He did not recog- 
nise that there are organic internal senses as 
well as organic external senses. And being on 
the line of organic internal sense, he came to that 
operation of it by which it feels the present state 
of the body, the flow of the now, and thereupon 
called it intuition. Then, instead of regarding 
this organic sense as ministrant to intellect, he 



64 BERGSON 

dragged in the reflections which the intellect 
made upon it, and called those reflections the 
reflections of the intuitive faculty. 

Bergson is quite clear on the point. " But it 
is to the very inwardness of life that intuition 
leads us." ^ So far he has observed the opera- 
tion of the organic sense. Then he continues : 
" By intuition I mean instinct that has become 
disinterested, self-conscious, capable of reflecting 
upon its object and enlarging it indefinitely." t 
There he adds on to the sensation the reflective 
function of the intelligence, but retains all under 
the same name of intuition. He observes tTiat 
the primary sensation has a natural tendency to 
lend itself to the intellect to be reflected upon. 
But he asks us to resist this natural tendency and 
drive on this so-called intuition to explore the 
deeper experiences of life. Instead of using his 
intelligence to abstract essences from life, man 
must plunge into the stream and feel life. 

Unfortunately there is one great obstacle to 
this method, and that is the great fact of space. 
Therefore, according to Bergson, space must be 
annihilated. Thus we have arrived at the con- 

* Creative Evolution, p. i86. 
t Ibid., p. 1 86. 



THE INTUITIVE METHOD 65 

elusion which we proposed at the end of our 
last chapter. The discarding of space and the 
placing of reality in the flow of time was due to 
this exaggerated subjectivism which substitutes 
feeling for intelligence, and which under the 
false title of mental intuition sets up sensation 
as the philosophical faculty. 

But it may be asked : is it not true that artists 
have visions of great conceptions ? Is it not true 
that great politicians conceive vast policies intui- 
tively f It is not true that great generals seize 
upon great strategies instinctively ? Is it not 
true that great Saints and Doctors of the Church 
have a tremendous grasp of huge fields of 
doctrine, and see many truths so swiftly that it 
can hardly be ascribed to discursive reasoning? 
It is. 

But the insight is not due to that organic 
sensation which announces to us our subjective 
feelings at the present passing moment. Nor 
is it due to that stultification of the intellect 
which confines its powers to the limits of space 
and imaginary time. Nor yet again is it due to 
an aimless guessing af conclusions merely be- 
cause we would like them to be true or feel 
them to be true. No, there is a sane doctrine 

£ 



66 BERGSON 

of intuition and a sane doctrine of mental 
instinct. 

We propose to sketch this in our next chapter, 
which will take the form of a comparison 
between Bergson, Newman, and Aquinas. 



CHAPTER IV 

BERGSON, NEWMAN, AND AQUINAS 

There can be no doubt that M. Bergson has 
hit upon certain facts of experience which are of 
enormous importance in the formation of a 
philosophy. Amongst these may be cited the 
fact of our last and ultimate phase of conscious- 
ness, that which we experience at the living, 
present moment ; the fact of the interpenetration 
of feehngs with feelings, of ideas with ideas, of 
feelings with ideas ; the fact of the organic con- 
nection between thought and the other activities 
of life. 

Because these facts are so important we shall 
not be content with merely criticising his inter- 
pretation of them, but we shall offer, step by 
step, an interpretation of our own. The merely 
destructive critic is of some use, but not much. 
If we pull down we ought also to build up. Our 
architects for the present plan are Newman and 
Aquinas. 

67 



68 BERGSON 

First, there comes intuition, strictly so-called. 
That is an operation of the mind, not of an 
organic sense. It is defined as an act by which 
the intellect perceives a truth immediately 
evident. For instance, it is immediately evident 
to me that I am not you and you are not I. To 
bring any intermediate evidence to prove it 
would be to act as a fool. The truth is self- 
evident. Being certain of my own identity, I 
can pass out of myself and consider a number of 
other truths in the outside world also self- 
evident. For instance, " The whole is greater 
than its part." And again: " Good must be 
done and evil avoided." Concerning intuitions 
of this kind there is no practical difficulty. 

But as we get deeper and deeper into the 
processes of thought, we find that there are 
truths which, while self-evident to some minds, 
require discursive reasoning for others. Minds 
made the more capable by nature or by culture 
can see complex truths more readily than minds 
not so capable. God, having a perfect all- 
comprehensive mind, sees everything at one 
intuitive glance, fer unam speciem. 

The question before us is this: Has man a 
faculty by which he can see complex truths at 



NEWMAN, AND AQUINAS 69 

a glance ? Can he arrive at truths not generally 
self-evident without passing through the process 
of discursive reasoning? Can he come to a 
sublime concept by any faculty such as instinct 
or intuition and apart from the faculty of reason ? 

Here there is need of several distinctions. 
Our first distinction shall be that of the word 
" instinct." By instinct, considered as a 
function of organic sense, man cannot arrive at 
even the simplest abstract truths. Much less, 
therefore, can he arrive at the more complex 
truths by instinct. 

Instinct considered as an organic faculty can 
only touch single concrete objects. It is by its 
very nature utterly incapable of making the 
slightest reflection. It is common to both 
brutes and men, but brutes possess it in a much 
more perfect degree than men. 

Cardinal Newman has a very pregnant para- 
graph, in which he shows that the principle of 
the objectivity of thought (/ not you and you 
not /), the first of our first principles, is founded 
on the animal instinct, yet is essentially distinct 
from it. He says: 

" Next, as to the proposition that there 



70 BERGSON 

are things existing external to ourselves, this 
I do consider a first principle, and one of 
universal reception. It is founded on an 
instinct; I so call it, because the brute 
creation possesses it. This instinct is 
directed towards individual phenomena, one 
by one, and has nothing of the character of 
a generalisation ; and, since it exists in 
brutes, the gift of reason is not a condition 
of its existence, and it may justly be con- 
sidered an instinct in man also. What the 
human mind does is what the brutes cannot 
do, viz., to draw from our ever recurring 
experiences of its testimony in particulars 
a general proposition, and, because this 
instinct or intuition acts whenever the 
phenomena of sense present themselves, to 
lay down in broad terms, by an inductive 
process, the great aphorism, that there is an 
external world, and that all the phenomena 
of sense proceed from it. This general 
proposition, to which we go on to assent, 
goes (extensive, though not intensive) far 
beyond our experience, illimitable as that 
experience may be, and represents a 
notion." * 

Here Newman sheds light which reveals to 

♦ Grammar of Assent, pp. 61-62. 



NEWMAN, AND AQUINAS 71 

us at once the confusion of Bergson's thought. 
For Newman shows exactly where instinct ends 
and where intellect begins. Instinct provides 
intellect with material to work upon. Instinct 
is not, as Bergson says, disinterested, self- 
conscious, capable of reflecting upon its object 
and enlarging it indefinitely. On the contrary, 
instinct presents sensible images from which 
intellect makes abstractions. 

Bergson's great mistake was in making in- 
tellect and instinct act in opposite directions, 
and in giving them entirely different fields of 
action. They act in the same direction, but each 
in a different manner. They both have the 
same things for their objects, but under different 
aspects. Sense has for its object the appear- 
ances of a thing, whilst intellect has for its 
object the thing itself, and not the appearance 
of it. 

We will inevitably land in confusion if we do 
not rid ourselves of the notion that instinct and 
intellect act at variance, and in opposition to 
each other. While each has its distinct sphere, 
both act in harmony with each other, instinct 
spontaneously ministering to intellect. 

St, Thomas is perhaps more generous than 



72 BERGSON 

Newman in admitting similarities between animal 
instinct and human intelligence. He goes so 
far as to use the word " intellect " for some of the 
higher operations of animal instinct. But he is 
careful to qualify the word by caUing it 
" passive " {intellectus passivus), and by insist- 
ing on its singular, sensitive, organic nature. 
He also calls it the vis cogitativa. He shows 
that this is not the differentiating faculty 
between brutes and man, but that man has a 
real intellect, the intellectus possibilis, so 
called because of its unlimited power to think all 
possible ideas. St. Thomas says : 

" An incident of the sensitive part cannot 
constitute a being in a higher kind of life 
than that of the sensitive part, as an 
incident of the vegetative soul does not 
place a being in a higher kind of life than 
the vegetative life. But it is certain that 
phantasy and the faculties consequent 
thereon, as memory and the life, are inci- 
dents of the sensitive part. Therefore, by 
the aforesaid faculties, or by any one of 
them, an animal cannot be placed in any 
higher rank of life than that which goes 
with the sentient soul. But man is in a 



NEWMAN, AND AQUINAS 73 

higher rank of Hfe than that. Therefore 
the man does not live the Hfe that is proper 
to him by virtue of the aforesaid ' cogita- 
tive faculty ' or ' passive intellect.' " "^ 

And again: 

" Sense is found in all animals, but animals 
other than man have no intellect : which is 
proved by this, that they do not work like 
intellectual agents, in diverse and opposite 
ways, but just as nature moves them to 
fixed and uniform specific activities, as 
every swallow builds its nest in the same 
way. . . . No sense has reflex knowledge 
of itself and its own activity : the sight 
does not see itself nor see that it sees. But 
intellect is cognisant of itself, and knows 
that it understands." t 

This essential distinction between sense and 
intellect obliges us to recognise that a man can 
no more think with his instinct than he can with 
his big toe. The right functioning of instinct 
is a necessary condition of clear thinking, just 
as is the right functioning of blood circulation 
at our lower extremities. We cannot study 

♦ Contra Gentes, Lib. II., Cap. LX. 
\Ibid., Lib. II., Cap. LXVI. 



74 BERGSON 

metaphysics if we are distracted with gout. But 
no amount of vegetative operation or keen 
instinct can see reflexive truth. 

Having made quite clear the distinction 
between instinct and intelHgence, properly so- 
called, we may pass on to consider those higher 
acts of the mind in which the mind seems to act 
just as instinct does, and in which it seems to go 
directly to its object, complex though it be, 
without appearing to pass through the inter- 
mediate stages of discursive reasoning. 

First, however, let us admit that the opera- 
tions of some particular minds would seem to 
give a handle to that part of Bergson's philos- 
ophy which limits the operations of intellect to 
space, and to explicit processes analogous to the 
cinematograph. 

There are people with what we call rigid 
minds and wooden dispositions. St. Thomas 
the Apostle was one. My distinguished friend, 
Dr Adrian Fortescue, is another. As he passes 
from the major to the minor of an argument, 
you can almost hear the click, and when he 
passes from the minor to the conclusion, the 
click becomes a snap. He is perfectly at home 
with such a theme as the Orthodox Eastern 



NEWMAN, AND AQUINAS 75 

Church, because that Church has been petrified 
for nearly nine centuries. But if he writes a 
book on such a vital thing as the Roman 
Liturgy, it is only to chronicle what has been 
said about it by others. 

Of course, the angelic Doctor had taken stock 
of this sort of mind, for doubtless there were 
such amongst the savants of Paris in his day 
even as in Bergson's. He says : 

" There are some who do not accept that 
which is said to them unless it be said in 
a mathematical way. And this happens on 
account of the custom of those who have 
been brought up on mathematics, for 
custom is a second nature. This also can 
happen to some people on account of their 
indisposition, to those, namely, who have 
a strong imagination and a not very elevated 
understanding." 

Nor is this quoted as in any way disparaging 
to the class. They have their fitting place in the 
general scheme of things. They make the 
bricks of which the builder constructs the 
edifice. 

Wherefore, since these things are so, we may 



76 BERGSON 

proceed with our construction. We may 
observe next that there is a principle in the 
philosophy of St. Thomas which does account 
for that interpenetration of the faculties of which 
M. Bergson makes so much. This is known as 
the principle of dichotomy. 

It asserts that man is a composite being of 
two principles, and of two only, namely, body 
and soul. There are not two souls or two 
forms. It is the same soul in man which thinks, 
wills, feels, vegetates, and actuates the primary 
matter. If, therefore, all these operations are 
but the activities of one and the same spiritual 
substance, namely, the soul, they must work in 
mutual harmony. They must have something 
more than an artificial communication with each 
other. They must have an organic connection 
with each other. But at the same time each 
one must perform the work which it was made 
to perform, each one must act according to its 
own nature. The will must not be expected to 
circulate the blood, neither must the sensitive 
faculty be expected to do the thinking. Each 
must do its own proper work. To emphasise 
this important point we print the formula in 
capitals: SECUNDUM NATURAM PRO- 



NEWMAN, AND AQUINAS ii 

PRIAM (according to its proper nature) : that 
by keeping this phrase prominently before us 
we may secure our reasoning process from 
degenerating into Bergsonian confusion. 

Bergson professed to bring in the whole man 
as the total principle which searched for truth, 
but by confusing mind and sense, and by cast- 
ing out the spatial relationship, his whole man 
became the whole man minus intelligence, while 
our whole man retains all his faculties. They 
act organically. Neither sensation nor volition 
usurps the office of intelligence. All the 
functions and faculties act in harmony with each 
other, but each according to its own nature, 
secundum naturam propriam. 

St. Thomas thus describes the interaction of 
the various powers : 

" According to the order of nature, on 
account of the combination of the forces of 
the soul in one essence, and of the soul and 
body in one composite being, the superior 
forces, and also the body, influence each 
other, and hence it is from the soul's appre- 
hension that the body is transmuted . . . 
and likewise conversely the transmutation 
of the body re-acts upon the soul. Simi- 



78 BERGSON 

larly the higher powers act upon the lower 
powers, as when passion in the sensual 
appetite follows upon an intense movement 
of the will, or when close study restrains 
and hinders the animal powers from their 
acts ; and conversely when the lower powers 
act upon the higher powers, and from the 
vehemence of the passions in the sensual 
appetite the reason is darkened." * 

Owing to this basic and organic connection 
between the faculties and functions, the mind is 
able to make rapid and spontaneous acts, which, 
in the concrete, we find difficult to analyse. It 
makes quick and spontaneous abstractions. 
Then in the same quick way it can pass from 
one concrete truth to another without having 
any explicit attention fixed on the intermediate 
universal term by which it does so. Thus I 
can say : " John Smith is a man, therefore he can 
make mistakes." " John Smith is a man," that 
is one concrete truth. " He can make mis- 
takes," that is another concrete truth. The 
universal middle term by which I pass from one 
to the other is : " It is human to err." This 
middle term is not expressed, but it is implied. 

* Quest, disp. de Vert tat. qu. 26, a. lo. 



NEWMAN, AND AQUINAS 79 

Afterwards, when we are talking about our 
quick mental processes, we can see that the 
intellect has not gone out of its province, nor 
has it drawn any other faculties into its province. 
Why? Because each faculty and function has 
acted according to its own nature. 

Further, when the intellect has had much 
practice in thinking, it forms intellectual habits. 
By these habits it can pass more rapidly still 
from one truth to another. Nay, it can even 
summarise long intellectual processes. Hence 
we have a recognised form of syllogism, called 
the enthymeme, in which a premise is left out, 
because it can be perceived implicitly. This is 
why the writings of great thinkers are so fre- 
quently difficult to understand. A well-trained 
mind is able to suppress, or rather to imply, 
much intermediate reasoning which a less 
trained mind would have to render 
explicitly. 

Now for this quick process of thought three 
kinds of mental habits are needed. First there 
is required the habit of common sense. That 
is the faculty of seeing those truths easily which 
the average mind sees easily. In other words, 
a man must not be a stupid. He must have the 



8o BERGSON 

ordinary capacity for seeing such truths as 
" twice two are four," and that " parallel lines 
will never meet." This mental habit is called 
understanding. 

Then there is required the habit of combining 
these first principles. By constant practice a 
man can acquire a facility in combining simple 
ideas, dividing complex ideas, and re-combining 
the elements of certain complex truths to make 
up certain other complex truths. When this 
facility has been acquired the man passes easily 
from the known to the unknown. Eventually 
many of his conclusions, which previously 
needed to be worked out laboriously, become 
to him self-evident. The habit by which he 
does this is called the habit of science. 

Hence a physical scientist can see at a glance 
that water is a combination of oxygen and 
hydrogen. A moral scientist can see at a glance 
that marriage is the foundation of society. 
Thus a proposition which needs discursive 
reasoning for the average mind may be intuitive 
for a mind skilled in that particular science or 
branch of knowledge. 

Thirdly, there is a mental habit which enables 
a man to handle the principles and conclusions 



NEWMAN, AND AQUINAS 8i 

of a science easily. This is a further extension 
of the power of composition and division ; the 
power to study the various sciences, to trace 
them back to their ultimate sources, and to 
ordain them to man's highest happiness and well- 
being, that is called the habit of wisdom. This 
faculty, too, like those of science and under- 
standing, can be so trained as to act rapidly, 
easily, and spontaneously. And when it can do 
this perfectly, then its operation is of the nature 
of an intuition. 

In the whole of the above process, from the 
simplest dictates of common sense up to the 
highest acts of expert wisdom, one thing is 
abundantly clear, namely, that the operation of 
the intellect is never a blind operation. It is 
one of vision from beginning to end, a vision of 
evidence. 

First there is the vision of first principles, the 

sight of those primary truths which we liken to 

the vision of the bodily eye. " It is plain as a 

pike-staff," we say. Then there is the vision 

of science, a vision of inferences based upon 

experiment. Finally there is the vision of 

wisdom, that grasp of a large situation which 

appears in its highest perfection in men of 

F 



82 BERGSON 

genius, in great generals, great statesmen, 
great poets, great artists. Thus by a synthesis, 
based upon the AristoteHan theory of habits, does 
St. Thomas build up his theory of intellectual 
vision. 

By a different method Cardinal Newman 
arrives at almost the same conclusion. His 
method is the analytic and comparative. He 
takes the phenomena of assent in different 
spheres of inquiry, he observes that men 
actually arrive at certitude in law, in poHtics, in 
war, etc., and argues that they can arrive at 
certitude in the same way as regards speculative 
and religious truth. 

Just as St. Thomas uses the term " passive 
intellect " to describe something which is merely 
organic sense, so Newman uses the word 
" sense " to describe something which is strictly 
intellectual. 

That spontaneous act by which a man sums 
up all available evidence and assents to a con- 
clusion which is the result of it, Newman calls 
an operation of the illative sense. It is exactly 
the same operation which St. Thomas calls an 
act of wisdom, except that whereas St. Thomas 
extends its range to both practical and specula- 



NEWMAN, AND AQUINAS 83 

tive truth, Newman limits it to speculative truth 
alone. 

That Newman and Aquinas, approaching the 
question from such opposite points of view, 
should be in such perfect harmony with each 
other is explained by the fact that they both 
possessed the same identical key. This was 
the Greek word phronesis — that final judgment 
which is so spontaneous, natural, and quick that 
it may be likened to the spontaneity and quick- 
ness of instinct, and may be called, in its per- 
fection, the power of intuition. And the Greek 
word which represents its foundation may be 
taken for an everlasting sign that the operation 
is strictly intellectual, and not a re-action of the 
organic sense. 

Says St. Thomas: 

" The power of intellect first of all appre- 
hends something, and this act is called 
' understanding ' ; secondly, however, it 
takes that which it apprehends, and orders 
it towards knowing or doing something 
else, and this is called * intention ' ; whilst, 
however, it is engaged in the inquiry of 
that which it intends, it is called * excogita- 
tion ' ; but when it examines that which it 



84 BERGSON 

has thought out with other certain truths, it 
is said to know or to be wise. And this is the 
function of phronesis, or sapientia; for it 
is the function of wisdom to judge." * 

Newman writes: 

" This power of judging and concluding, 
when in its perfection, I call the illative 
sense, and I shall best illustrate it by 
referring to parallel faculties, which we 
commonly recognise without difficulty. 
... As regards moral duty, the subject is 
fully considered in the well-known ethical 
treatises of Aristotle. He calls the faculty 
which guides the mind in matters of con- 
duct by the name of phronesis, or judgment. 
This is the directing, controlling, and deter- 
mining principle in such matters, personal 
and social. What it is to be virtuous ; how 
we are to gain the just idea and standard 
of virtue ; how we are to approximate in 
practice to our own standard, what is right 
and wrong in a particular case, for the 
answers in fullness and accuracy to these 
and similar questions the philosopher refers 
us to no code of laws, to no moral treatise, 

* Summa, p. I., qu. 79, a. lo, ad 3m. 



NEWMAN, AND AQUINAS 85 

because no science of life, applicable to 
the case of an individual has been or can 
be written. Such is Aristotle's doctrine, 
and it is undoubtedly true. An ethical 
system may supply laws, general rules, 
guiding principles, a number of examples, 
suggestions, landmarks, limitations, cau- 
tions, distinctions, solutions of critical or 
anxious difficulties; but who is to apply 
them to a particular case? whither can we 
go, except to the living intellect, our own, 
or another's ? " * 



These quotations have an additional value 
when we remember that Newman was not 
famiHar with the works of Aquinas. t I am also 
of the opinion that Newman had not read 
Aristotle's Metaphysics, else why should he draw 
his parallel from the Nicomachean Ethics, when 
the idea he wanted was there to his hand in the 
Metaphysics and already applied to his purpose. 
It was a happy fault on his part, if fault it was. 
for it shows us at once the independence and the 



♦ Grammar of Assent, pp. 353 and 354. 

t He knew his way about them, so to speak, but we shall 
search him in vain for evidence of knowledg-e of St. Thomas. 



86 BERGSON 

harmony of the three great minds, Newman, 
Aquinas, and Aristotle. 

It is to St. Thomas rather that we must look 
for the more complete synthesis. He has one 
fhronesis overruHng the totality of man's life, 
whereas Newman asks for a phronesis for 
each faculty. Once again we find St. Thomas 
absolutely abreast of modern times. 

We may now examine the difference between 
the doctrine of Bergson and that of Newman 
and Aquinas. The higher intuition of Bergson 
is purely organic and sensitive, unintellectual, 
acting only in response to its proper object. 
The higher intuition and instinct of Newman 
and Aquinas is strictly intellectual, but never- 
theless spontaneous, quick and easy, when in 
its perfection, and only called sense or instinct 
by reason of a certain analogy which it bears to 
them. 

He, therefore, who uses the intuitive method 
of Newman and Aquinas must use his intellect 
to the utmost of its capacity. All its discursive 
reasoning is gathered up in the form of habit, 
and is summarised for the service of that last 
ultimate judgment which comes as an intuition. 
Thus the intuition, instead of being a blind piece 



NEWMAN, AND AQUINAS 87 

of guess-work, is the total result of the whole 
of the man's thought. It is an illation charac- 
terised by the highest wisdom. 

On the contrary, in the Bergsonian method, 
the seeker after truth begins by maiming his 
intellect. He is like a man who would dig a 
hole, and begins by smashing his spade. In- 
tuition and intellect are declared to work in 
opposite directions, the one aiming at life, the 
other at inert matter. Intuition, according to 
Bergson, is not a special perfection of the intel- 
ligence, but a special perfection of animal 
instinct. 

The doctrine of Newman and Aquinas has 
all the advantages which Bergson is striving 
for, but which he fails to obtain. Both Newman 
and Aquinas are fully in touch with life. 
Aquinas begins with the living ego. Then from 
the ego he communicates with the outside world 
and receives impressions. These impressions 
modify the ego, and become the material upon 
which the mind works. Hence the axiom found 
throughout the whole system of St. Thomas, 
that nothing is in the intellect except what has 
previously been in the senses. 

Then, when the mind has obtained the 



88 BERGSON 

material with which to work, there goes on a 
constant kinetic process. Thought is as much 
a present necessity for the mind as air is for 
the lungs. Hence the composition and division 
of ideas goes on in one constant flow. First 
principles are worked up into knowledge and 
knowledge into wisdom. Wisdom being that 
vital mobile faculty of the mind by which it 
peers into truth and forms its explications and 
applications. St. Thomas, however, takes this 
so much for granted that it seems hardly worth 
while for him to emphasise it. 

Newman, on the contrary, is never tired of 
insisting on the need of associating thought with 
life, or rather of looking upon thought as a form 
of life. Whilst ever insisting on the intellectual 
nature of the illative sense, he deprecates too 
much introspection and self-analysis. " Intro- 
spection of our intellectual operations is not the 
best means of preserving us from intellectual 
hesitations. To meddle with the springs of 
thought and action is really to weaken them." * 

Hence it is well to let the mind act naturally, 
not to force one element towards the abstract 
flow of life and another to the solids of the out- 

♦ Grammar of Assent, pp. 216 and 217. 



NEWMAN, AND AQUINAS 89 

side world ; not to confine reflection to subjective 
experience derived from subjective experience, 
but to use a subjective experience which is con- 
stantly refreshed from the objective world. 

" Instinctively, even though uncon- 
sciously, we are ever instituting comparisons 
between the manifold phenomena of the 
external world as we meet them, criticising, 
referring to a standard, collecting, analys- 
ing them. . . . We apprehend spon- 
taneously, even before we set about 
apprehending, that man is like man, yet 
unHke ; and unlike a horse, a tree, a moun- 
tain, or a monument, yet in some, though 
not the same respects, like each of them. 
And in consequence, as I have said, we are 
ever grouping and discriminating, measur- 
ing and sounding, framing cross classes 
and cross divisions, and thereby rising from 
particulars to generals, that is from images 
to notions." * 

Thus Newman is in complete harmony with 
the scholastics. Bearing this fundamental har- 
mony in mind we can go the whole way with 
him when he shows us his method as a vital 

♦ Grammar of Ass4nt, p. 30, 



90 BERGSON 

process. We know now what he means when 
he says : " Logic makes but a sorry rhetoric with 
the multitude; first shoot round corners, and 
you may not despair of converting by a syl- 
logism." * 

And again : " It is the mind that reasons or 
assents, not a diagram on paper." t The mind 
acts according to its own nature, that is, it 
normally keeps the laws of the syllogism, even 
though, through rapidity of action, it does not 
reflect on them. " It is to the living mind that 
we must look for the means of using correctly 
principles of whatever kind, facts or doctrines, 
experiences or testimonies, true or probable, 
and of discerning what conclusion from these 
is necessary, suitable, or expedient, when they 
are taken for granted ; and this, either by means 
of a natural gift, or from mental formation and 
practice, and a long familiarity with those various 
starting-points." | 

St. Thomas crowns his doctrine by showing 
how it is directed to man's eternal interests 
through the special gifts of the Holy Spirit. In 

• Grammar of Assent, p, 94. 
t Ibid., p. 180. 
Xlbid.,^. 360. 



NEWMAN, AND AQUINAS 91 

the natural order man orders his life aright by 
making a fair equipoise between external evi- 
dence and subjective appreciation of the same. 
He does not shut himself up within himself, 
depending entirely on his own power of self- 
perfectibility. He acknowledges that he is a 
social animal, and depends very largely for his 
due perfection on the experience and influence of 
his fellow-beings. 

But if self-perfectibility is a crude fallacy in 
the natural order, much more so is it in the 
supernatural order where man is destined to a 
life so much beyond his natural powers. Where- 
fore St. Thomas works into his system the 
revealed truth concerning the gifts of the Holy 
Spirit. Corresponding with the three habits of 
mind by which man passes from first principles 
to highest intuition, there are the three divine 
gifts of understanding, knowledge, and wisdom 
i^ntellectus^ scientia^ sapientia). 

" Thus, therefore, concerning the truths 
which are proposed to be believed on faith, 
two things are required on our part. First, 
they must be penetrated and grasped by the 
intellect; and this pertains to the gift of 
understanding. Secondly, it is necessary 



92 BERGSON 

that man should have a right judgment 
concerning these truths, that he should 
value his power of clinging to them and of 
shrinking from their denial. Such judg- 
ment concerning divine things pertains to 
the gift of wisdom, whilst such judgment 
concerning created things pertains to the 
gift of knowledge." * 

Thus the highest operations of the intellect 
become controlled and guided by the Holy 
Spirit. These gifts have their root in charity. 
Hence the greater one's charity is, so much the 
keener will his insight be into supernatural 
truths. 

Now we can discern which is the better 
method for a sane creative evolution, the method 
of Bergson or the method of Newman and 
Aquinas. 

Look first at the creations of science. Have 
they been accomplished by turning away from 
the intellect and the outside world, and by forc- 
ing intuition to bear on the flow of the " now " } 
Columbus sees wood floating on the water and 
discovers America. Stephenson sees the kettle 
boiling and discovers the steam engine. Far- 

♦ Summa 2a aae qu. 8, a. 6 corp. 



NEWMAN, AND AQUINAS 93 

man observes a bird flying and makes an 
aeroplane. Archimedes jumps into his bath, 
turns out the water, and discovers the law of 
specific gravity. Is the reason evident? 

Now we clap 
Our hands and cry " Eureka " 

Every discovery of any value to mankind has 
been the result of an illation of the intellect based 
upon sensible experience. Sometimes the 
experience has been a short and simple one, but 
sometimes it is a long series of patient experi- 
ments. Marconi required long trial and con- 
tinued inference to perfect wireless telegraphy. 
So also did Madame Curie for the discovery of 
radium. And so, too, Mendel for the discovery 
of his laws of inheritance. 

But, it may be argued, these are instances of 
physical science merely. What about the real 
creations of art? Surely the greatest creations 
of painting have been inspired by a Mother and 
a Child. The most sublime works of sculpture 
have for their face value a woman or a man. 
So, too, in music, the very nature of which might 
seem to exclude images. Beethoven, in the 
depths of despair over his manuscript, hears a 
knock at the door : he waits and hears another, 



94 BERGSON 

and these two knocks provide the theme for one 
of his superb symphonies. Bach takes the 
letters of his name, changes the H into G sharp, 
and writes one of his classical fugues. Pales- 
trina adopts a simple melody from the plain 
chant, and upon that builds up the music of a 
Mass. All of which points to the universal 
axiom that genius is but an infinite capacity for 
taking pains. 

But pains are just the things which the 
disciples of Bergson will not take. It is so much 
easier to say : " I beheve in so and so, not 
because I can give any reason for it, but because 
I see it intuitively. If the rest of the world fails 
to see it, that is only because the rest of the 
world has not cultivated the higlier sensi- 
tiveness." 

Hence it is that in the world of art we have 
those soi-disant creators, the Futurists and 
Post-impressionists. Having thrust intellect 
aside, having destroyed all spatial values, and 
having projected their feeling into the flux of 
Hfe, they have produced exactly that which one 
would expect them to produce, galleries of daubs 
and smudges. 

Suppose a man imagines himself a superman, 



NEWMAN, AND AQUINAS 95 

beyond good and evil, and enunciates principles 
for which he has no reasonable justification — 
principles which he sees only by intuition — how 
are we to deal with him? 

Many have done this; and chief amongst 
them is Friedrich Nietzsche. Nietzsche called 
himself the " creator of new values " ; and his 
philosophy is the " transvaluation of all values." 
He retires to the upper regions of the Engadine, 
and shuts himself up within himself. Gradually 
his intuitions begin to enlarge. " Christ," he says, 
" is the first prophet of transvaluation, whereas I, 
Nietzsche, am the second prophet continuing 
the work of Christ. I have fulfilled Christ's 
work by destroying it." And so Nietzsche 
feels happy, free, light. He sees himself 
soaring to an infinite height above man; and 
believes his creative thought can do everything. 
" I am not a man ; I am dynamite." In two 
years the earth will be in convulsive throes. But 
before this comes to pass his friends take pity 
upon him and place him under lock and key. 

Perhaps the most obnoxious fruit of the 
Bergsonian philosophy is the work of M. 
Georges Sorel, the apostle of the general strike. 
From his quiet little home at Boulogne he sends 



96 BERGSON 

forth effusions calculated to put whole nations 
into throes. His doctrines are only just begin- 
ning to make their way into England and 
America, though for some time they have in- 
fluenced France, Italy, Spain, and Switzerland. 

The general strike, or rather the threat of a 
general strike, is the weapon with which he is 
to renovate society. But this is not to be 
brought along by intellectual organisation, nor 
yet is it to be justified by a reasoned statement 
as to what will happen afterwards. Sorel pours 
contempt on such a scientific socialist as the 
English organiser, Mr Sidney Webb. His 
figures and statistics are indigestible; they 
require much time and trouble to assimilate. 

Patience is not a characteristic virtue of the 
school of Bergson. Therefore Sorel seizes upon 
this intuitive method as an easy way of escaping 
the intellectual and moral difficulties which the 
concept of the general strike involves. Intui- 
tion, he says, is more than knowledge. If look- 
ing inward upon fife, you see the general strike 
to be good or necessary, then intellectual 
analysis of the results becomes unnecessary. 
" Man has only genius in the measure that he 
does not reflect." The privilege of our person- 



NEWMAN, AND AQUINAS 97 

ality is to impose itself on the future, and to 
cut into it without ceasing. Hence our intelli- 
gence cannot possibly anticipate what is going to 
happen. 

Such ideas were readily taken up by the 
French syndicalists. Here was a ready-made 
apology for unchecked liberty to combine, and 
for a self-determined government heedless of all 
outward authority. 

Indeed, Sorel goes further and distrusts 
sociaHst members of parHament and labour 
representation. He prefers the creative evolu- 
tionary methods of street demonstrations, strikes, 
boycotting, and sabotage. For to-day the 
Marxian doctrine of a materialistic conception of 
history is abandoned in favour of the creative 
evolution of Bergson. 

When Sorel is asked what he will have if he 
rejects both Intellectualism and materialism, he 
replies that he will depend on creative evolution. 
The people must revert to primitive states so as 
to get into instinctive and poetic moods. Berg- 
son, he tells us, has done away with the ration- 
alists, whilst any organised plan for the future 
is but the idol of politicians. 

Is not the general strike an undivided whole ? 

G 



98 BERGSON 

How can it be possible to mark out the various 
parts of such a catastrophe as the transition from 
Capitalism to Socialism? Is it not a vital indi- 
visible flowing continuum? 

This last instance may serve as a lesson to 
those members of the orthodox camp, and there 
are many of them, who think that metaphysics 
has no connection with the practical life of the 
multitude. The filtering down is usually a 
process so intricate and so long that it is not 
easily observable. But here the passage is 
quick, requiring the minds of only two men to 
form a disastrous speculation to realise it. 

Bergson upsets the concepts of " being " and 
" becoming " ; then Sorel upsets railway- 
carriages and tram-cars. Bergson says : " Keep 
your intelligence for the humdrum things of 
every-day life, but use your intuition to evolve 
new creations." Sorel replies : " Yes, sire, I am 
doing it, and the Happy Land is coming." 

Ah, but the essential condition of a happy and 
prosperous community is stability, whereas the 
essential characteristic of Bergsonian philosophy 
is instability or change. Therefore, not by this 
method can the Happy Kingdom come. A 
stable society can only be assured when wealth 



NEWMAN, AND AQUINAS 99 

is divided amongst the majority of the citizens. 
But that is just what SyndicaHsm aims at 
frustrating. 

SyndicaHsm, with true instinct, follows the 
philosophy which prescribes everlasting change, 
not only accidental change, but change of 
essence, change of the thing in itself. Sorel 
may well say that his Happy Land is coming. 
Perhaps it is. But it is coming in such a way 
that it will be always coming — it never can and 
never will arrive. 



CHAPTER V 

THE NEW IDEA OF FREEDOM 

A DISLOCATION of the intellect of necessity 
involves a dislocation of the will. Hence it 
comes about that M. Bergson must formulate 
an entirely new doctrine concerning freedom. 
Hitherto the upholders and the opponents of 
free will have understood each other fairly well. 
There has been no doubt as to the point at issue. 
When two alternative courses of action are intel- 
ligently perceived, does the will possess a liberty 
of choice between them? The libertarians say 
Yea, whilst the determinists say Nay. But in 
this new philosophy the intellect is not con- 
sidered to be the supreme judge and guide in 
conduct. The new conceptions of space and 
time and flow and intuition have changed all 
this. Both libertarians and determinists have 
been fighting over a problem which ought never 
to have existed. Freedom is not the choice 

IOC 



THE NEW IDEA OF FREEDOM loi 

between two alternatives proposed by the under- 
standing. Freedom is a great creative act which 
is the result of the whole of a man's character. 
It is made but seldom and perhaps never in a 
man's Hfetime. Once again M. Bergson has 
changed the standard coinage. He is said to 
have placed freedom in such a safety as it never 
was before. We contend that he has placed it 
in such a jeopardy as it never was before. 

Before coming to real grips with M. Bergson 
it will be necessary to dispose of a preliminary 
misunderstanding. He seems not to have cor- 
rectly grasped the scholastic doctrine. He poses 
a dilemma which comes to this : Either the will 
is moved by the strongest motive, in which case 
it is not free ; or it is indifferent to motives, in 
which case the moral responsibility of the agent 
is destroyed. Now such is not a correct pre- 
sentment of the state of the question. We 
propose then to give a brief description of the 
scholastic doctrine. The same will then serve 
as a norm by which to judge the various points 
of M. Bergson's doctrine. 

We define the will as the faculty or appetite 
which strives after some good apprehended by 
the intellect. We define freedom as that active 



I02 BERGSON 

indifference of the will by which the agent, when 
all the conditions requisite for acting are present, 
is able either to put forth the volition or to 
abstain from doing so. Free-will therefore 
implies two things : first there must be some intel- 
lectual light present, and secondly that the 
volition is freely exerted by the agent and is not 
a necessary result of his nature or environment. 
Of course many of a man's acts during the day, 
indeed most of them, are the result of nature 
and of habit, which is the second nature. Most 
of a man's acts are the result of a predominant 
motive. The question before us, therefore, is 
not whether all a man's spontaneous actions 
are free or not, but only whether some of them 
are. The schoolmen then have a very important 
distinction to separate the two kinds of acts. 
When a human action is done, as we should say, 
deUberately and after reflection, it is called an 
actiLS hunmnus, but when it is done indeliber- 
ately, without reflex thought or by force of habit, 
then it is called an acitis homitzis. It is only 
the deliberate acts which we claim to be free. 

Further wt claim that in these dehberate acts 
the agent is to a certain extent influenced by 
motives. The function of his intelligence is to 



THE NEW IDEA OF FREEDOM 103 

weigh evidence. And since there are two sides 
to every question there must be motives drawing 
him to either side. But the weightier motive is 
not enough to force his will one way. Probably 
he will follow the weightier motive, and an out- 
sider who knew all the circumstances might 
foretell with the greatest probability which course 
he would take. But he could not foretell with 
certainty, because the freedom which is in the 
will defies exact calculation. 

The first mistake of M. Bergson is in sup- 
posing that the question is one of either being 
determined by necessary causes or of being 
absolutely regardless of motives. There is a 
middle way. The will is influenced to a certain 
extent by evidence duly weighed by the intellect, 
but it is not absolutely determined by it. In 
the late crisis with the Church the French 
Government thought that it had laid down 
sufficient motives to incline Pope Pius X. to- 
wards its own desires. But it was out in its 
reckoning, for Pius X. being a man of free will, 
was able to do what he did, namely, just the 
thing which the French Government thought he 
would not do. Nevertheless, Pius X. was not 
without a motive for what he did. He had a 



I04 BERGSON 

motive, but was not of necessity determined 
by it. 

Thus freedom is not the same thing as 
independence. To identify freedom with inde- 
pendence is to have the most false of all false 
notions of freedom. Real freedom is dependent 
at least upon some evidence but is not necessi- 
tated by it. 

If an agent acts absolutely without any 
thought at all he is not acting freely, for having 
no motives he has nothing to choose from, 
whereas the very essence of freedom consists in 
choice. 

The primary testimony of this freedom is an 
intuition of the strictest kind. If we look into 
ourselves and place ourselves between two alter- 
natives, say to take up one book or another, or 
to take up a book or leave it alone, we can see 
immediately and without any discursive reason- 
ing that we are able to choose. Moreover this 
consciousness of being able to choose freely is 
present before, during, and after the act. And 
this consciousness of freedom is so universal in 
mankind that it must be taken to be one of the 
essential features of human nature. If an in- 
dividual here or there says that he has not got 



THE NEW IDEA OF FREEDOM 105 

the consciousness he must be written down as 
an odd person and treated accordingly, or 
perhaps^ philosopher may say that although 
he may have the first intuition of freedom yet by 
a chain of reasoning he can prove that he is 
not free. Then the answer is that the chain of 
reasoning depends ultimately on primary intui- 
tions, and if the testimony of consciousness is 
not to be trusted when it shows forth freedom 
then neither can it be trusted when it shows forth 
the data from which the chain of reasoning 
begins. 

Besides this direct consciousness of freedom 
there is also discursive proof of it. This Hes in 
the responsibility which is universally attached 
to human acts. If a man's acts are all determined 
by heredity and environment then he himself 
cannot be held responsible. If a man jumps 
into the sea at the risk of his life to save a fellow- 
traveller, then, on the determinist principle, no 
praise is due to him, for he could not help it. 
So, too, if a man tells a lie and calumniates his 
neighbour, then, on the determinist principle, no 
blame is due to him, for he could not help it. 
But all sane mankind does praise acts of heroism 
and does blame acts of lying. Why? Because 



io6 BERGSON 

they believe the doers to be free agents, 
possessed of free choice, able to do these things 
or leave them undone according as they 
freely choose. 

Thirdly the will may be shown to be neces- 
sarily free from the very limitations of our 
intellectual outlook. The will is an appetite 
which always tends toward that which is appre- 
hended as good. Whatever good we think 
about, it is either difficult to obtain, or, if we 
obtain it, we are not sure of being able to keep 
it. Since then, everything which we can have 
in this life is both good in some respect and 
defective in some respect, the will must of neces- 
sity be free to pick and choose. Hence which- 
ever way we look at freedom its existence 
depends upon intellectual light. 

We are now in a position to approach 
M. Bergson's treatment of it. The determinists 
say that intellectual light destroys freedom, since 
it acts as a determining motive. M. Bergson 
says that they are right if we allow the intellect 
to be a motive at all. Therefore, if we would save 
freedom, we must seek for it somewhere else than 
in the choice between two alternatives each 
apprehended by the intellect. He proposes to 



THE NEW IDEA OF FREEDOM 107 

find it in the very rare creative acts which are the 
expression of man's whole personaHty. And this 
is how he arrives at his conclusion. 

The great bugbear which stands in the way 
of a solution of the problem is space. Psychic 
states pertain to real time, that all-important 
flowing " now," whereas space does not. Time 
flown may be represented by spatial pictures, 
but not so time flowing. But an act of freedom 
is a supreme psychic state. Therefore it cannot 
be measured, nor yet can it be compared with 
alternative courses proposed by the intellect. 

" What I attempt to prove is," writes M. 
Bergson, " that all discussion between the 
determinists and their opponents implies a 
previous confusion of duration with exten- 
sity, of succession with simultaneity, of 
quality v/ith quantity: this confusion once 
dispelled, we may perhaps witness the dis- 
appearance of the objections raised against 
free will, of the defmitions given to it, and, 
in a certain sense of the problem of free 
will itself." ^ 

About two-thirds of the volume treating par- 
ticularly of this subject is taken up in the attempt 

* Twie and Free Will^ P- 19- 



io8 BERGSON 

to show that psychic states are not subject to 
the laws of mathematics and geometry, or in 
other words, that if they can be said to be 
greater or less, the difference is one of intensity 
and not extensity. If I am sorry my sorrow 
is neither square nor round, and if I am glad 
my gladness is neither seven nor eight. If we 
do attach magnitude to psychic states it is only 
because the intellect, being normally at home 
with solids, uses analogies of spatial magnitude 
to represent that which has no space and no 
measurement. Psychic states simply endure in 
an unceasing flow, and consequently any intel- 
lectual or pictorial representation of them is 
entirely inadequate to the reality, and is but 
an artificial device for the practical purposes of 
life. 

" We should, therefore, distinguish two 
forms of multiplicity, two very different 
ways of regarding duration, two aspects of 
conscious life. Below homogeneous dura- 
tion, which is the extensive symbol of true 
duration, a close psychological analysis 
distinguishes a duration whose hetero- 
geneous moments permeate one another ; 
below the self with well-defined stated, a 
self in which succeeding each other means 



THE NEW IDEA OF FREEDOM 109 

melting into one another and forming an 
organic whole. But we are generally con- 
tent with the first, i.e. with the shadow of 
the self projected into homogeneous space. 
Consciousness goaded by an insatiable 
desire to separate, substitutes the symbol 
for the reality, or perceives the reality only 
through the symbol. As the self thus re- 
fracted, and thereby broken to pieces, is 
much better adapted to the requirements 
of social life in general and language in 
particular, consciousness prefers it, and 
gradually loses sight of the fundamental 
self." ^ 

If, therefore, we are to observe where freedom 
lies, so it is contended, we must ever turn our 
eyes on these two aspects of self. The surface 
self which is intellectual and static must be 
subject to the laws of science, and consequently 
can not be free. Whereas the fundamental self 
being independent of space, independent of in- 
tellect must be free. 

" In order to recover this fundamental 
self, as the unsophisticated consciousness 
would perceive it, a vigorous effort of 

* Time and Free Will, p. 129. 



no BERGSON 

analysis is necessary, which will isolate the 
fluid inner states from their image, first 
refracted, then solidified in homogeneous 
space. In other words, our perceptions, 
sensations, emotions and ideas occur under 
two aspects ; the one clear and precise, but 
impersonal; the other confused, ever- 
changing, and inexpressible, because 
language cannot get hold of it, without 
arresting its mobility or fit it into its com- 
monplace forms without making it into 
public property." * 

Fixing our mental gaze on the fluid funda- 
mental self we find there the kinetic action of 
the whole soul. There is the gathering up of 
the whole of the life-force. 

" There is no need to associate a number 
of conscious states in order to rebuild the 
person, for the whole personality is in a 
single one of them, provided that we know 
how to choose it. And the outward mani- 
festation of this inner state will be just what 
is called a free act, since the self alone will 
have been the author of it, and since it will 
express the whole of the self. Freedom, 
thus understood, is not absolute, as a 

* Time\and Free\Will, p. 129. 



THE NEW IDEA OF FREEDOM iii 

radically libertarian philosophy would have 
it ; it admits of degrees." ^ 

Many people, it is admitted, do not allow 
their experiences to sink down into this funda- 
mental self. If an education is not properly 
assimilated there grows up a parasitic self which 
continually encroaches upon the real self. 
People who allow this parasitic self to grow can 
never know what freedom is. They live merely 
by rule and routine and consequently are always 
determined. 

Indeed, this would seem to be the case with 
the majority of mankind. Sad to say, most men 
are rational animals and mistake ithe spatial 
representation of time for the real fluid stuff, 
and hence "free acts are exceptional, even on 
the part of those who are most given to con- 
trolling and reasoning out what they do." t 

Moreover, M. Bergson will go so far as to 
say that when an act is the result of this bubbling 
up of inner life, even though there be no reason 
whatever for it, nevertheless it may be a free 
act. Our quotation must be a long one but it 

* Titne and Frte Will, pp. 165-166, 
t|/3*V/, p. 167. 



112 BERGSON 

is necessary if we are to appreciate the extent 
to which reason is prostituted in this philosophy. 

"When our most trustworthy friends 
agree in advising us to take some important 
step, the sentiments which they utter with 
so much insistence lodge on the surface of 
our ego and there get solidified in the same 
way as the ideas of which we spoke just 
now. Little by little they will form a thick 
crust which will cover up our own senti- 
ments ; we shall beheve that we are acting 
freely, and it is only by looking back to the 
past, later on, that we shall see how much 
we were mistaken. But then, at the very 
moment when the act is going to be per- 
formed, something may revolt against it. 
It is the deep-seated self rushing up to the 
surface It is the outer crust bursting, sud- 
denly giving way to an irresistible thrust. 
Hence in the depths of the self, below this 
most reasonable pondering over most 
reasonable pieces of advice, something else 
was going on — a gradual heating and a 
sudden boiHng over of feehngs and ideas, 
not unperceived, but rather unnoticed. If 
we turn back to them and carefully scruti- 
nise our memory we shall see that we had 



THE NEW IDEA OF FREEDOM 113 

ourselves shaped these ideas, ourselves 
lived these feelings, but that, through some 
strange reluctance to exercise our will, we 
had thrust them back into the darkest 
depths of our soul whenever they came up 
to the surface. And this is why we seek in 
vain to explain our sudden change of mind, 
by the visible circumstances which preceded 
it. We wish to know the reason why we 
have made up our mind and we find that 
we have decided without any reaison, and 
perhaps even against every reason. But 
in certain cases, that is the best of reasons. 
For the action which has been performed 
does not then express some superficial idea, 
almost external to ourselves, distinct and 
easy to account for; it agrees with the 
whole of our most intimate feelings, 
thoughts and aspirations, with that most 
particular conception of Hfe which is the 
equivalent of all our past experience, in a 
word, with our personal idea of happiness 
and honour." ^ 

Let us notice here that the force which is 
supposed to rise up and burst into freedom is 
indiscriminately composed of feelings and ideas. 

* Time and Free Will, pp. 169-170. 

H 



114 BERGSON 

Let us notice that we have two selves at variance 
with each other. Let us note above all things 
that the palm of freedom is given to blind in- 
clination in preference to intellectual vision. 
And all this is calmly assumed to be our highest 
and noblest life, the quintessence of a Hfe spent 
in forming a happy and honourable character. 

Then, of course, when intellect and space 
have been excluded from the process, when the 
free act has been placed in the fluid " now," 
when the faculty by which it is perceived is 
declared to be only feeling, there must of neces- 
sity be some difficulty in defining what freedom 
is. Indeed, M. Bergson says quite frankly that 
it is indefinable. Since it springs from that deep 
living flow of fundamental life, and not from 
the superficial crust, it must be vague to the 
understanding. If we attempted to define it we 
should crystahse it and at once thereby concede 
the whole case to the determinists. We must 
therefore keep the concept nebulous. Clear- 
ness is static whilst nebulosity is always shifting. 

" Freedom must be sought in a certain 
shade or quality of the action and not in 
the relation of this act to what it is not 



THE NEW IDEA OF FREEDOM 115 

or to what it might have been. All the 
difficulty arises from the fact that both 
parties (determinists and Hbertarians) 
picture the dehberation under the forms of 
an oscillation in space, while it really con- 
sists in a dynamic progress in which the 
self and its motives, like real living beings, 
are in a constant state of becoming. The 
self, infallible when it affirms its immediate 
experiences, feels itself free and says so; 
but as soon as it tries to explain its freedom 
to itself it no longer perceives itself except 
by a kind of refraction through space. 
Hence a symbolism of a mechanical kind, 
equally incapable of proving, disproving 
or illustrating free will." * 

The nearest approach to a definition is this, 
that freedom is the relation of the concrete self 
to the act which it performs. Just as there is 
some sort of indefinable resemblance between 
the work of an artist and the artist himself, so 
there is an indefinable resemblance between 
each concrete free act and the concrete agent 
who performs it. 

" This relation is indefinable, just be- 

* Time and Free Will, pp. 182-183. 



ii6 BERGSON 

cause we are free. For we can analyse a 
thing, but not a process ; we can break up 
extensity but not duration. Or, if we per- 
sist in analysing it, we unconsciously trans- 
form the process into a thing and duration 
into extensity. By the very fact of breaking 
up concrete time we set out its moments 
in homogeneous space ; in place of the 
doing we put the already done ; and, as 
we have begun by, so to speak, stereo- 
typing the activity of the self, we see 
spontaneity settle down into inertia and 
freedom into necessity. Thus, any positive 
definition of freedom will ensure the victory 
of determinism." * 

It is a very strange admission on the part of 
a philosopher to say that he is actually unable 
to define his terms. To do this is to admit that 
he is cornered. We must, therefore, go over 
his steps again, see where he went wrong, and 
then perhaps we shall be able to define the 
corner in which we now observe him. 

We begin with the evolutionary philosophy. 
From the initial thrust of creative evolution 
there has evolved man as we know him. Various 

♦ Time and Free Will, pp. 219-220. 



THE NEW IDEA OF FREEDOM 117 

branches of life have bifurcated. Intellect is 
but a development of sensation which life itself 
has created for a purpose. Intellect and sen- 
sation are, therefore, always radically the same 
thing. Intellect is always extended. Hence M. 
Bergson is beset the whole time with the diffi- 
culty of trying to get away from extension. 

Now if he had admitted at the beginning, as 
the schoolmen constantly teach, that there is 
an essential difference between intellect and sen- 
sation, he would not have impaled himself as 
he has done. We not only admit, but we claim 
and emphasise that the intellectual act is not 
quantitive. It transcends not only space but 
time also. Then if we are asked how the intel- 
lect manipulates the world of solids we answer 
that it is through the instrumentality of the 
phantasy. St. Thomas states this position so 
delicately and clearly that we cannot do better 
than repeat his words. He seems almost to have 
foreseen the speculations of M. Bergson. 

" Distance in place," he says, " ordinarily 
affects sense, not intellect, except incident- 
ally, where intellect has to gather its data 
from sense. For while there is a definite 



ii8 BERGSON 

law of distance according to which sensible 
objects affect sense, terms of intellect, as 
they impress the intellect, are not in place, 
but are separate from bodily matter." ^ 

Moreover, the intellect is able to transcend 
time as well. 

" Terms of intellect are as independent 
of time as they are of place. Time follows 
upon local motion, and measures such 
things only as are in some manner placed 
in space. . . . Time is a condition of our 
intellectual activity since we receive knowl- 
edge from phantasms that regard a fixed 
time. Hence to its judgments, affirmative 
and negative, our intelligence always ap- 
pends a fixed time, except when it under- 
stands the essence of a thing. It under- 
stands essence by abstracting terms of 
understanding from the conditions of sen- 
sible things ; hence in that operation it 
understands irrespectively of time and other 
conditions of sensible things." t 

Here St. Thomas puts the operations of the 
intellect beyond both space and time flown. Had 

* Contra Gentiles, Lib. II., Cap XCVI. 
t Ibid. 



THE NEW IDEA OF FREEDOM 119 

M. Bergson not been obsessed by his radical 
evolutionism he might have saved himself the 
trouble of writing the first two long chapters of 
his Time and Free Will. The free act is essen- 
tially independent of time and space. We grant 
him that, not because fluid time is not space, 
but because the acts of the intellect are simple, 
spiritual, unextended acts, and therefore, essen- 
tially beyond time and space. When the intellect 
has thus been rescued from the necessitous 
bonds of sensation it has been rescued from all 
determinist danger. When M. Bergson con- 
fuses intellect with sensation he first concedes 
with the right hand to the determinist that which 
he afterwards tries to take away with the left. 
There is no need for all these contortions. The 
intellect is essentially distinct from sense. We 
can 'picture, for instance, with the imagination 
an individual man, say President Wilson or ex- 
President Taft, and such an individual must have 
a definite size and shape. But we can also think 
of the universal concept " man " which has no 
definite size or shape, but which is appHcable 
to every individual. If the intellect is only in- 
cidentally dependent on time and space in so 
far as it abstracts its universal concepts from 



I20 BERGSON 

particular phantasms which exist in time space, 
if essentially it is independent of time and space, 
then it can provide a spiritual motive for the will 
which can influence the will without necessitat- 
ing it. 

Even those of us who hold the traditional 
doctrine of free will need to be constantly on our 
guard against misunderstanding the use of the 
word " motive." We need constantly to remind 
ourselves that when we speak of the spirit we 
must needs do so in terms of the flesh. These 
terms, therefore, are analogical and are not 
quite adequate for their purpose. When we 
speak of motive-power applied by one spiritual 
faculty to another, it is not the same kind of 
motive-power as that which is applied by a 
sledge-hammer to a wedge. One is vital and 
spiritual whilst the other is mechanical and 
material. The latter is of its nature necessitous 
whilst the former of its nature is free. 

M. Bergson has been obsessed by this con- 
fusion from the beginning to the end of his work. 
Thus he has been constrained to deny freedom 
to acts which hitherto have been considered free, 
and to attribute freedom to acts which may or 
may not be free. 



THE NEW IDEA OF FREEDOM 121 

" Hence it has been a mistake," he says, 
" to look for examples in the ordinary and 
even indifferent circumiStances of life in 
order to prove that man is capable of choos- 
ing without a motive. It might easily be 
shown that these insignificant actions are 
bound up with some determining reason. 
It is at the great and solemn crisis, decisive 
of our reputation with others, and yet more 
with ourselves, that we choose in defiance 
of what is conventionally called a motive, 
and this absence of any tangible reason is 
the more striking the deeper our freedom 
goes." ^ 

This continued attempt to obscure the intel- 
lectual Hfe by an appeal to life as a whole, really 
an appeal to the whole life minus intellect, 
reaches the height of the picturesque, when M. 
Bergson tries to explain away our deliberation 
between two courses of action. 

" In reality there are not two tendencies, 
or even two directions, but a self which 
lives and develops by means of its very 
hesitations, until the free action drops from 
it hke an over-ripe fruit." t 

* Time and Fra IVi//, p. 170. 
\ Ibid.^ p. 176. 



122 BERGSON 

Our first criticism of the foregoing doctrine 
will be an appeal to that very consciousness of 
living upon which M. Bergson depends so much. 
He appeals to that consciousness, and rightly so 
too, for evidence that some of our acts are free. 
But does not that very consciousness announce 
the possibility of choosing an alternative ? And 
does not that very consciousness announce the 
same thing equally so before, during and after 
the act which is in fact chosen.^ If conscious- 
ness does not announce this, it announces 
nothing at all. If it is not valid against the 
determinists and in favour of their old opponents, 
then neither is it valid in favour of the freedom 
proposed by M. Bergson. The symbol of the fall 
of over-ripe fruit means that so many determin- 
ing influences are acting upon it that it can no 
longer remain hanging on the tree, but must of 
necessity fall to the ground. Now that is just 
what our immediate consciousness tells us does 
not take place with regard to our free acts. 
That consciousness tells us that we could have 
kept the fruit hanging so long as we freely 
chose to do so. 

Nor is M. Bergson any better off if we appeal 
to discursive reasoning. What sort of acts are 



THE NEW IDEA OF FREEDOM 123 

they to which mankind attaches praise and 
blame ? Which are the acts for which a person 
is held responsible, the deliberate ones or the 
impulsive ones? 

First, for instance, take a prisoner who is 
charged with the capital offence. Let time and 
space enter very much into his deed. Let hinj 
be known to have traversed continents and to 
have taken weeks and months in which to mature 
his crime. Let him pass through all those acts 
which are indicative of intellectual dehberation. 
Let all this be proved against him and any jury 
will find him guilty without any recommendation 
to mercy. But on the other hand let him be 
known to have acted on the impulse of passion. 
Let him be known to be subject to brainstorms, 
those sudden outbursts of elemental passion, 
jealousy, anger and the hke. Let it be proved 
that he acted without deliberation. Let it be 
shown that the beginning and the end of the 
process was in the fluid " now " (or " then "). 
The jury would undoubtedly hesitate to pro- 
nounce him guilty. It would declare rather that 
he was devoid of that intellectual light so 
necessary for freedom, and that consequently 
he was not fit to be numbered among free men, 



124 BERGSON 

but must have accommodation provided for him 
in the safe institution at Manhattan. 

Next let us take a case in which a great act 
is done at a crisis in a man's Hfe, and which the 
world praises ; let us say the conversion of 
Newman. Undoubtedly that act was the sum 
total of his past life, surface life as well as funda- 
mental. Undoubtedly, influences were at work 
which he had forgotten. But then his mind was 
able to summarise his past thought. His will 
had framed volitional habits ever tending God- 
wards. And long years after the act he was able 
to go back on his past life and record the chief 
of the reasons which had urged him onward. 
He was able to write a whole book which was 
in the strictest sense of the word an Apologia 
pro Vita Sua. And who shall say that reason 
does not predominate in every line of it; yet it 
is not for the reasons which he gives that the 
world admires him. There are thousands upon 
thousands who admire his act whilst profoundly 
disagreeing with its reasons. It is because he 
acted in deference to conscience, because he 
could have remained where he was, but freely 
preferred to follow the " kindly light." 

Then what shall we say of those whose past 



THE NEW IDEA OF FREEDOM 125 

life has been one of sin, and who suddenly 
become converted. Sin implies a direction away 
from God, whilst conversion implies the very 
opposite. We may take either St. Paul or St. 
Augustine or some of those non-Catholic 
varieties quoted by Professor William James. 
Are the free actions of these men to be com- 
pared with the fall of an over-ripe fruit; the 
whole trend and growth of the character of Paul 
had been towards the persecution of others. 
Then when the light suddenly came he was able 
to turn right about and begin an entirely new 
life. Self-development along the old lines would 
only have taken him further and further away 
from the free life which was afterwards to be 
such a joy to him. 

St. Augustine has left us an account of pas- 
sions tending to determine him one way and of 
freely fighting against them. But he requires 
time and space and something else. An outside 
free Power must raise and accentuate his own 
freedom. 

" I will plant my feet firmly on the ground 
where my parents placed me, until the 
evident truth be discovered. . . . Let me 
plan out my time; let me set apart fixed 



126 BERGSON 

hours for the salvation of my soul. . . . 
While I talked Hke this and the wind kept 
shifting and driving my heart now hither 
now thither, time was slipping away ; I 
delayed my conversion to the Lord; I ad- 
journed from day to day the life in Thee, 
but daily death in myself I could not 
adjourn. I loved the blessed life, but feared 
to seek it in its own abode ; and I fled from 
it, while I sought it. For I thought I should 
be miserable without the embraces of a 
woman. I never gave a thought to the 
medicine which Thy mercy has provided 
for the healing of that infirmity, because I 
had never tasted it, and fancied that con- 
tinence depended on our own strength. 
Such (Strength I was conscious that I did 
not possess, and, in my folly, I knew not 
how it is written : * None can be continent 
unless Thou give it.' Certainly Thou 
wouldst have given it, if with unuttered 
groanings I had besieged Thine ears, and 
with firm faith had cast my care upon 
Thee." * 

Then outside Catholicism there is the case 
which Newman describes as " the almost mira- 
culous conversion and subsequent life of Colonel 

♦ Confessions, Bk. VI. chap. xi. 



THE NEW IDEA OF FREEDOM 127 

Gardiner." ^ Professor James speaks of it as 
" the classic case of Colonel Gardiner," the man 
who was cured of sexual temptation in a single 
hour. To Mr Spears the Colonel said : " I was 
effectually cured of all inclination to that sin I 
was so strongly addicted to that I thought noth- 
ing but shooting me through the head could have 
cured me of it; and all desire and incHnation 
to it was removed, as entirely as if I had been a 
sucking child ; nor did the temptation return 
to this day." t Mr Webster's words on the same 
subject are these ; " One thing I have heard the 
Colonel frequently say, that he was much ad- 
dicted to impurity before his acquaintance with 
religion ; but that so isoon as he was enlightened 
from above, he felt the power of the Holy 
Ghost changing his nature so wonderfully that 
his sanctification in this respect seemed more 
remarkable than in any other." \ 

In presenting these examples let us beware 
of a possible Bergsonian retort that these lives 
were one continous flow, and that conversion 
was but a curve in the direction. The question 

♦ Difficulties of Anglicans, Vol. I. p. 91. 
t Varieties of Religious Experience, p. 269. 
\ Ibid., p. 269. 



128 BERGSON 

we are dealing with at present is not the flow but 
the freedom. M. Bergson places freedom in 
the gathering up and bursting of a particular 
kind of life. But if this were true then a sinful 
course of life ought to fructify in sin, and the 
free act should be a sinful act falling from the 
sinner like over-ripe fruit. But in the case just 
quoted it is precisely the contrary that happens. 
The act of conversion, instead of being the ripe 
fruit of past conduct, is the beginning of a new 
life. The continuum is broken. The new life 
is discontinuous from the old, being of an entirely 
different order. Nay, it is the very discon- 
tinuity that is counted as meritorious. The 
freedom and responsibility were present, for the 
world does not praise where there is no respon- 
sibility. Nor does the presence of grace, 
admitted in all three cases, lessen the respon- 
sibility or deprive the agents of merit. 

It remains for us now to do for M. Bergson 
that which he has declined to do for himself, 
namely to define his so-called freedom. The 
only vestige of freedom which he has retained 
is the name. The thing itself he has utterly 
sponged out from his method. The thing which 
he calls freedom is the act which is the result 



THE NEW IDEA OF FREEDOM 129 

of all the powers of the soul. This might pos- 
sibly be a free act if all the powers of the soul 
were reviewed by the intelligence and under 
intellectual light found expression through the 
will. But then, on the other hand, M. Bergson 
excludes the intellectual light. On one page 
he asks for the activity of the whole soul, whilst 
on the next page it is the whole soul minus 
intelligence which he requires. The difference 
between the Bergsonian crisis and the old 
determinist crisis is like that between the crisis 
of the modern motor-car and the old stage- 
coach. If the old stage-coach went smash, why 
there you were, but if the modern motor-car goes 
smash, why where are you? The brute beasts 
act in response to their whole souls. When the 
tiger is enraged, the whole gamut of his feelings 
is actuated and his resolves fall from his indivi- 
duality like over-ripe fruit. And if we exclude 
the deliberations of the intellect from resolutions 
of man, the " whole soul " which is left is pre- 
cisely similar to that of the tiger. So this is 
the definition which we must impose on Berg- 
sonian freedom — sheer animal impulse. Indeed, 
in his later work, he seems to accept this con- 
clusion. 

I 



I30 BERGSON 

" We have already said that animals and 
vegetables must have separated soon from 
their common stock, the vegetable falling 
asleep in immobility, the animal, on the 
contrary, becoming more and more awake 
and marching to the conquest of a nervous 
system. Probably the effort of the animal 
kingdom resulted in creating organisms 
still very simple, but endowed with a certain 
freedom of action, and above all with a 
shape so undecided that it could lend itself 
to any future determination. These animals 
may have resembled some of our 
worms. . . . " * 

In this case there is no difference whatever 
between freedom and necessity. Determinism 
triumphs but in the name of freedom. 

It is not difficult to see the effect of this 
philosophy on other manifestations of the time- 
spirit of which it is itself the outcome. If this 
new concept of freedom be true then the doctrine 
of man's self-perfectibiHty is absolute and final, 
mere sensation is the norm of morahty, and man 
is locked up for ever in pure subjectivism. The 
new thing does not shew itself under these ugly 
names but clothes itself with such terms as " self- 

♦ Creative Evolution^ p. 136. 



THE NEW IDEA OF FREEDOM 131 

realisation," " enchantment of life," " living out 
one's own nature." 

Looked at more closely the new thing is found 
to be composed chiefly of the three appetites: 
for gold, sex, and independence respectively. 
When the elan vital appears as the lust for 
gold it sets up the banner of freedom of con- 
tract. If it can only play upon, or rather prey 
upon the poor man's need of bread it ignores 
all sense of the real thing freedom. Lust deter- 
mines the signature of the contract on the one 
part and hunger determines the signature of 
the contract on the other. 

When the vital impulse thrusts itself onward 
under the form of sexual appetite it does so in 
the name of love. It even counts as immoral 
any attempt to keep this love within any con- 
straining limits of law. " He who feels strongly 
enough " writes Ellen Key, " does not ask him- 
self whether he has a right to that feeling — he 
is so enlarged by his love that he feels the life 
of humanity is enlarged by him." The pity is 
that those who adopt such teaching find out 
their mistake when it is too late. The surrender 
to erotic excitement is the passing from personal 
liberty into abject slavery, and there is no 



132 BERGSON 

need to describe further the lamentabU result* 
of it. 

When the creative evolution expands as the 
lust for independence there is no sphere of life 
that it may not vitiate. Everywhere law is 
needed to protect personal freedom from the 
intrusion of undue determining forces. But the 
lust for independence is impatient of all law. 
Independence is therefore the great enemy of 
freedom. If freedom is to reign, the lust for 
independence must be kept within bounds of 
reason. And this must be done immediately 
and constantly, for the more the passion is 
allowed independence the more it grows in in- 
tensity, and the less reason and will are exercised 
in controlling it so much the weaker do these 
faculties become. The appetites for gold, sex, 
and independence are not bad things in them- 
selves. They are the spontaneous motor-forces 
which are designed to carry on the existence 
of the race. But, lest they .should be dissipated 
in aimless diffusion, laws are needed to econo- 
mise them. 

We cordially agree, therefore, with M. 
Bergson that the whole problem of free will 
harks back to the question: Is time space? Wc 



THE NEW IDEA OF FREEDOM 133 

agree with him that time is not space. But we 
profoundly disagree with him in divorcing time 
from space as he does. They are indissolubly 
wedded together. And I speak here not merely 
of space and time flown, but of space and time 
flowing. Flowing time has no meaning unless 
there be moving bodies with which to measure 
it. But space is an essential quality of moving 
bodies. Space, therefore, is wanted to give 
definition to what would be a vague and 
nebulous idea of flowing time. Nay, the prob- 
lem rather harks further back to the most 
elementary question of all : Is " being " identical 
with " becoming " ? It is not. But " being " is 
needed for "becoming." Before we can treat 
of " becoming " as a reality at all we must first 
satisfy ourselves that it is. Similarly we must 
run this metaphysical principle through the 
whole course of our reasoning. As " being " is 
wanted for " becoming," so is the static wanted 
for the kinetic, so is space wanted for time, so 
is reason wanted for will, so is authority wanted 
for autonomy, and so is law wanted for freedom. 
Yes, even in the simplest acts of free will some 
laws must be observed. Even if it be such a 
simple choice as to whether I shall stand up 



134 BERGSON 

or sit down, law must be taken into account. 
It will not do for me to yield to any inclination 
whatsoever and tumble about anywhere. I 
must reckon with the law of gravity for instance 
and the equilibrium of forces. Otherwise I might 
sit down to my unexpected discomfiture. 



CHAPTER VI 



FINALISM 



One of the characteristics of the time-spirit is \ 
that its consciousness is centred on means with- 
out reference to their end. We have already 
seen how the masters in Eugenics invite us to 
adopt any ideal we like, provided only we use 
Eugenic methods to attain it. Almost the 
whole of our County Council education is 
carried out on the same principle. Ask the 
members of our education committees what they 
aim at in deciding the curriculum of their schools 
and they will be puzzled for an answer. After 
some reflection they may tell you that their aim 
is to produce an English gentleman. But ask 
them what constitutes an EngHsh gentleman, 
and they will be puzzled again. So too is it with 
the rush of commerce. Doubtless money- 
making is the proximate end of it all, though 
even here some men are so absorbed in the 

135 



136 BERGSON 

process itself as to ignore even the proximate 
end. They do not balance their accounts and 
consequently wake up some fine morning to find 
themselves bankrupt. Nay, this would seem 
to be a tendency of all human nature, for it is 
evident even in religion, where the end is pro- 
fessedly fixed in another world. The parish 
priest, devoted to his people, tends to make his 
parish work the end of all things. A society for 
the propagation of catholic truth tends to regard 
its own interests as paramount. Even daily 
Communion may be exalted into an end in itself. 
Hence from time to time we have to check 
ourselves, to remind ourselves that these things 
are but means to an end, and to remember that 
the final end of man is to praise God and to 
serve Him throughout eternity. 

Fundamentally the tendency is not bad. He 
who really wishes for the end wishes also for 
the means, so that he who is careless about the 
means is really not serious about attaining the 
end. The tendency to concentrate force on the 
means provides the driving-power which keeps 
the process going. It consists first of deliber- 
ate intention but afterwards becomes a kind of 
instinct and habit. The function of such habit 



FINALISM 137 

and instinct is to set free our deliberate inten- 
tion so that it may look towards the final end 
and seek out still more efficient means of attain- 
ing it. This requires constantly renewed effort. 
To neglect this effort is to fall into the abuse of 
making means an end in themselves. 

M. Bergson's doctrine of finalism panders to 
this abuse. We do not say it was designed for 
this purpose. But we do say that it is the 
natural outcome of his anti-intellectuahsm, 
which is but the formulation of the time-spirit*s 
disinclination to reflect. Let us see what the 
doctrine is. 

First, the evolution progress such as we 
have previously described is taken for granted. 
Then an inquiry is instituted as to how this 
transformation may be interpreted. Hitherto 
we have had two chief interpretations set before 
us, mechanism and finalism. The one is a 
complexus of blind forces working out mechani- 
cally and by chance. The other is the realisa- 
tion of an intelligent plan fixed beforehand. 
Both, however, have failed to interpret the 
history of evolution because both have been 
weighted with the same fallacy. Neither has 
taken into account the fact that the process is a 



138 BERGSON 

flux incapable of intellectual representation. 
There is just a grain of truth in the finalist 
explanation. M. Bergson leans slightly to- 
wards this. 

" We try on the evolutionary progress," 
he says, " two ready-made garments that 
our understanding puts at our disposal, 
mechanism and finality ; we show that they 
do not fit, neither the one nor the other, 
but that one of them might be re-cut and 
re-sewn, and in this new form fit less badly 
than the other." * 

The theory of creative evolution would, of 
course, exclude every form of mechanism. M. 
Bergson's criticism, indeed, of the various forms 
of mechanism is deadly in the extreme. 

" The mechanistic philosophy is to be 
taken or left: it must be left if the least 
grain of dust, by straying from the path 
foreseen by mechanics, should show the 
slightest trace of spontaneity." t 

But spontaneity is observable everywhere. 

* Creative Evolution, pp. xiv-xv. 
t Ibid., p. 42. 



FINALISM 139 

The comparison of the human eye with that of 
the Pecten is a most marvellous and conclusive 
proof that these organs have not been formed 
by the mechanical exigencies of environment. 
The Pecten is a mollusc commonly known 
as the scollop. Its eye is just as perfectly 
developed as that of any of the vertebrates. 
How is it that with such entirely different 
environments such similar results should be 
obtained.^ Consider the extremely complex 
structure of the eye together with its extremely 
simple function. It is composed of several 
parts such as the sclerotic, the retina, the 
crystalline lens, etc. Each one of these parts is 
divided into an almost infinite number of dis- 
tinct parts. The retina, for instance, contains 
three layers of nervous elements — multipolar 
cells, bipolar cells, and visual cells — each of 
which is in itself a very complicated organism. 
Yet all these complexities are co-ordinated for 
the one simple act of vision. The slightest mis- 
take in the vast system of co-ordination would 
have made sight impossible. And this co- 
ordination has been as perfecdy accomplished 
in the mollusc as in man. Mechanism might 
account for the construction of one of these 



I40 BERGSON 

infinitesimal parts, but it throws no light what- 
ever on their wondrous co-ordination. 

The rejection of mechanism, however, in- 
volves the acceptation of some sort of finalism. 
M. Bergson even goes so far as to admit the 
necessity of some kind of direction over and 
above that of individual effort in order to 
account for variation. 

" To sum up," he says, " if the accidental 
variations that bring about evolution are in- 
sensible variations, some good genius must 
be appealed to — the genius of the future 
species — in order to preserve and accumu- 
late these variations, for selection will not 
look after this. If, on the other hand, the 
accidental variations are sudden, then, for 
the previous function to go on or for a new 
function to take its place, all the changes that 
have happened together must be comple- 
mentary. So we have to fall back on the 
good genius again, this time to obtain the 
convergence of simultaneous changes, as 
before to be assured of the continuity of 
direction of successive variations." * 

Naturally we must ask who this good genius 

* Creative Evolution^ P- 72. 



FINALISM 141 

may be. Then we are referred to our old friend 
the vital effort. When hereditary changes take 
place in definite directions, when each accumu- 
lation is the building up of a more and more 
complex machine, there must be an effort some- 
where. Nor can this effort be confined to 
individual effort. It must be something deeper, 
and far more independent of circumstances. It 
must be " an effort common to most representa- 
tives of the same species, inherent in the germs 
they bear rather than in their substance alone, 
an effort thereby assured of being passed on to 
their descendants. So we come back, by a 
somewhat roundabout way, to the idea we 
started from — that of an original impetus of life, 
passing from one generation of germs to the 
following generation of germs through the 
developed organisms which bridge the interval 
between the generations."* 

Thus this vital impulse gnaws into the future, 
sometimes creating more and more complex 
forms and rising to higher and higher destinies, 
but sometimes indeed resting not merely for 
years or even centuries but for whole geological 
periods. 

* Creative Evolution^ p. 92. 



142 BERGSON 

" Certain Foraminifera have not varied 
since the Silurian epoch. Unmoved wit- 
nesses of the innumerable revolutions that 
have upheaved our planet, the Lingulae are 
to-day what they were at the remotest 
times of the paleozoic era." * 

M. Ber^son may call his vital impulse a good 
genius or anything else he likes. If it is able 
to create the various species ranging from the 
amoeba up to man, and if it is able to abstain 
from creating and to rest in the Lingulae for 
aeons of time, then it must know something 
about the making of plans. So far he has 
delivered us from mechanism but not from 
finalism. 

Why, then, does he object to finalism? He 
is obsessed by his singular views on the nature 
and function of time. If there is such a thing 
as a plan according to which the universe moves, 
then there is no use for time. There are no 
new forms for it to create, for practically every- 
thing has been already created. If the plan is 
given to begin with, then teleology is but 
mechanism inverted. The only difference be- 
tween the two is that finalism puts our supposed 

* Creative Evolution^ p. 107. 



FINALISM 143 

guiding light in front of us whilst mechanism 
puts it behind us. One acts as an attraction 
whilst the other acts as an impulsion. Succes- 
sion and movement and life remain but mere 
appearances. If forms are foreseen in a general 
plan, then they are not really created by the 
flux of time. True, there is a certain amount 
of contingency in finalism which does not obtain 
in radical mechanism, and for that reason final 
ism is to be preferred to its opponent. If, how- 
ever, we must accept some sort of finalism, and 
yet not that which supposes a general plan con- 
ceived and willed beforehand, what sort of 
finalism does M. Bergson propose? 

His thesis may be stated as follows: The 
vital impulse which carries on the evolutionary 
process starts off without any preliminary plan. 
In the effort of ascending life to overcome 
descending matter certain problems present 
themselves. The vital impulse freely resolves 
each problem in turn by creating absolutely new 
forms, forms so absolutely new that they could 
not have been foreseen even by an infinite 
intellect. 

This thesis has certain vague characteristics. 
That the vagueness is not ours will perhaps be 



144 BERGSON 

evident if we call attention to the fact that we 
are not told whether the problems present them- 
selves in intelligible terms or in unintelligible 
mist. Certainly there is supposed to be a clash 
between life and matter. That might con- 
ceivably produce smoke. But perhaps M. 
Bergson's own statement of his thesis may be 
clearer than ours. 

" But," he says, "if the evolution of life 
is something other than a series of adapta- 
tions to accidental circumstances, so also it 
is not the realisation of a plan. A plan is 
given in advance. It is represented or at 
least representable, before its reaHsation. 
The complete execution of it may be put 
off to a distant future, or even indefinitely; 
but the idea is none the less formulable at 
the present time in terms actually given. 

" If, on the contrary, evolution is a 
creation unceasingly renewed, it creates as 
it goes on, not only the forms of life, but 
the ideas which will enable the intellect to 
understand it, the terms which will serve to 
express it. That is to say that its future 
overflows its present and cannot be sketched 
out therein in an idea. There is the first 
error of finalism."* 

* Creative Evolution ^ p. io8. 



FINALISM 145 

The first reason given for the rejection of a 
preHminary general plan is that it is too anthro- 
pomorphic, and is too much at variance with the 
observed operations of nature. The labour of 
nature, it is said, is made too much like that of a 
workman who chooses first a piece from here 
and then a piece from there, and eventually puts 
all into one construction according to an idea or 
a plan or a model which he has before his 
mind from the beginning. But if we look at 
embryonic life we find that it works quite another 
way. " Life does not proceed by the associa- 
tion and addition of elements^ but by dissoci- 
ation and division." * 

The process here referred to is, of course, the 
well-known method of cell division. First a 
mother cell is formed. This splits up into two 
cells. Then these divide into two others, and 
so on until a complete organ is formed. But 
when a carpenter wishes to make a chair he does 
not begin by splitting himself up, and so on. 
Such is the force of M. Bergson's argument. 

In reply we point out first that the organism 
of a cell is an organism. It has been organised. 
It contains definite potentiaHties. These poten- 

♦ Creative Evolution^ p. 94. Italics are M. Bergson's. 

K 



146 BERGSON 

tialities must first have been put into it before 
they can actuaHse out. Then when they begin 
to actualise out they do so on a plan which can 
be foreseen with infaUible certitude. I know, for 
instance, that the embryonic cell of a horse will 
not divide out into a cow. Nor will bantam eggs 
plan out into ducklings. All this is conclusive 
proof of a pre-arranged and foreseeable plan. 

Moreover, even in the matter of choice of 
material, M. Bergson's comparison of nature 
with a workman tells in favour of finalism in its 
complete sense. Before life can proceed by 
dissociation and division, it must first proceed 
by association and addition of elements. Before 
the mother cell can make even one single divi- 
sion it must assimilate its distinctive food 
and nutrition. If it is an animal cell, it must 
assimilate phosphorous for the formation of 
nerve tissue. If it is a plant cell it must assimi- 
late carbon for the formation of wood tissue. 

Such power of assimilation implies a pre- 
arranged plan. The results too are foreseeable. 
I know with infallible certitude that if men 
breathe nothing but carbonic acid gas, and that 
if plants breathe nothing but pure oxygen, all 
will surely die. The plan conceived in advance 



FINALISM 147 

must b€ followed if life is to have a fruitful 
issue. 

Again, argues M. Bergson, if the course of 
nature is nothing more than a plan in course of 
realisation, then the future is closed. But in 
the evolution of life the portals must remain wide 
open, else there will be no opportunity for the 
creation of new forms. The unity of Hfe is 
found solely in the impetus that pushes it along 
the road of time. The harmony is behind, not 
in front. There are too many failures in nature 
to admit of a preconceived plan. There are 
minor paths in the evolutionary push, devia- 
tions, arrests, and setbacks. The meaning of 
these can only be found in the virtue of the 
initial movement. 

" This movement constitutes the unity of 
the organised world — a prolific unity, of an 
infinite richness, superior to any that the 
intellect could dream of, for the intellect is 
only one of its aspects or products." ^ 

Let us freely admit that the future is closed 
whilst the plan is being realised. But what 
about the future before the plan began its 

♦ Creative Evolution, p. 1 10. 



148 BERGSON 

realisation? And what about the future after 
the plan is realised? Surely the portals have 
been and will be wide open. It is only the 
immediate future that is closed so that the world 
may be carried on intelligently. 

When a carpenter begins to make a chair he 
usually intends to finish it. If he decided to 
leave the future open so that he might be always 
creating new forms he would never get any 
further. He must do one thing at once. He 
must not start first a chair, then a table, then a 
step-ladder, then a picture-frame, and so on, 
never reaHsing a definite plan, and all under fear 
of closing the future. If he does this, neither 
chairs, tables, step-ladders, nor picture-frames 
will evolve at all. 

Nor could nature thus keep the future open. 
Suppose the future were not closed to a bantam 
egg. And suppose the embryo began first by 
evolving towards a bantam, then changed its 
future to a duckling, then after two weeks incu- 
bation thought of becoming a kitten, and finally 
decided to be a puppy, what a funny thing it 
would look when it was born. 

No. Both nature and art require a definite 
plan — foreseeable and foreseen. And what is true 



FINALISM 149 

of the transformation of parts of the universe 
is true also of the whole. Certainly a human 
intellect can not see the correlation of all the 
parts, but the intellect of the Creator can. The 
God who transcends nature lives in eternity. 
With Him there is one eternal present. What 
with us is past, present, and future is as one only 
present to Him. Thus it is not strictly correct 
to speak of God foreseeing things. By one 
single intuition He sees directly that which is 
to us past, present, and future. He sees at once 
both the proximate end and the final end of 
every creature. 

Nay, there can be no system of evolution at 
all intelligible which does not involve finalism 
right from the beginning to the end. When the 
initial impulse, postulated by M. Bergson, first 
started off, either it did so in a definite direction 
or it did not. If it had a definite direction 
it had a goal. If it had no direction, it never 
started. Whichever way you take it, you must 
either go somewhere or stay where you are. To 
start off for nowhere, as Bergsonian philosophy 
teaches, is a contradiction in terms. 

Further, a theory of proximate ends implies 
a theory of an ultimate end. Let us grant for 



I50 BERGSON 

a moment that the semi-finalism proposed by 
M. Bergson is coherent. Let us suppose that 
the vital impulse can create both ideas and forms 
for its immediate needs without reference to any 
exemplar. Even so, there is required an ulti- 
mate and complete finalism in order to give 
meaning to the proximate semi-finalism which 
we have supposed. 

The doctrine of semi-finalism declares that 
the vital impulse solves particular problems 
according to the measure in which they present 
themselves. But then, if they are to be rightly 
solved, they must be solved in view of the final 
problem of which they are a part or to which 
they are related. If, for instance, the complex 
structure of the eye finds its meaning in the 
simple act of vision, it but raises the problem 
as to what is the purpose of vision. If vision 
is for the purpose of enabling man to seek his 
food, then that gives rise to the problem as to 
what is the purpose of feeding. Thus we can 
go on pushing one problem against another. 
We eat in order that we may live. x\t length 
comes the final problem: why does man exist 
at all.'^ There must be some reason for it. 
Seeing, walking, eating, and digesting must have 



FINALISM 151 

an ultimate purpose. And if the vital impulse 
does not act according to this ultimate purpose, 
how can it ordain intermediate functions to 
attain it? If it ha^ not got a plan of the whole 
to guide it from start to finish how can it create 
parts which will afterwards fit each other and 
make up an intelligible whole? 

Almost in spite of himself M, Bergson 
stumbles into this incoherence again and again. 
He thrusts out the general plan with his right 
hand, but only to drag it in with his left. Nor 
does his right hand know what his left hand does. 

Let us take, for instance, the march of the 
eye towards perfect vision. In the Infusorian 
the eye is a mere pigment-spot which is im- 
pressionable to light. The action is almost 
purely chemical. Now this pigment-spot is 
supposed to progress in perfection until it is as 
perfect as the human eye. Its evolution takes 
place either by slight or by isudden variations. 
If by slight variations, what is their function? 
Surely they are means to an end, stepping- 
stones to more perfect vision. But if that end 
is unknown and unforeseeable how can the 
variations vary in the right direction? If there 
is n6 goal at which to aim, why does not the 



152 BERGSON 

pigment-spot develop into an ear or a nose 
rather than into an eye? 

Nor is the difficulty any less if the variations 
are sudden. Why should a pigment-spot make 
leaps along a particular Hne of evolution and 
eventually turn out to be an eye in its last isudden 
metamorphosis? There is no answer to this 
except that there was a definite aim in the evolu- 
tion. The animal wanted to see better, and the 
more complex eye was the more apt instrument 
for this purpose. 

But there is another serious consideration to 
be taken into account in the development of the 
eye. This organ does not float about in mid-air. 
It is an organism of an organism. It is fixed 
in the socket of an animal, and it is in vital 
connection with the brain, the heart, the stomach 
and the nerves. This connection has to be duly 
taken into account all through its evolution. A 
decaying tooth, for instance, may be the cause 
of an abscess growing on the eye. There is a 
co-ordination between the various members of 
the body which has to be kept in view during 
the whole time of development, else vision will 
be impossible. If one member suffer all the 
members suffer with it. 



FINALISM 153 

There must, therefore, be a general plan of 
the whole animal before the eye can be properly 
adjusted to the other organs which serve it, and 
which in turn it serves. 

But further, the animal itself has to observe 
a plan of the world outside itself. If a man with 
a shooting-party is so careless or so disobedient 
as to go beyond the bounds set by the head 
keeper he runs the risk of getting a pellet in 
his eye. The eye is related not only to the 
various organs of the animal to which it belongs, 
but also to the whole universe. A speck of 
meteoric dust may easily put it out of action. 
Each individual problem which presents itself 
directly to the vital impulse leads sooner or later 
to the ultimate problem. A semi-finalism is 
meaningless without a complete finaHsm. 

There is one more illustration used by M. 
Bergson which seems to us to gather up the 
whole of his contentions, and also, we may add, 
the whole of his fallacies. Let us quote it at 
length : 

" With greater precision '* he says " we 
may compare the process by which nature 
constructs the eye to the simple act by 
which we raise the hand. But we supposed 



154 BERGSON 

at first that the hand met with no resistance. 
Let us now imagine that, instead of moving 
in air, the hand has to pass through iron 
filings which are compressed, and offer 
resistance to it in proportion as it goes 
forward. At a certain moment the hand 
will have exhausted its effort, and at this 
very moment, the fiHngs will be massed and 
co-ordinated in a certain definite form, to 
wit, that of the hand that is stopped and a 
part of the arm. Now, suppose that the 
hand and the arm are invisible. Lookers- 
on will seek the arrangement in the filings 
themselves and in the forces within the 
mass. Some will account for the position 
of each filing by the action exerted upon it 
by the neighbouring filings: these are the 
mechanists. Others will prefer to think 
that a plan of the whole has presided over 
the detail of these elementary actions : they 
are the finalists. But the truth is that there 
has been merely one indivisible act, that of 
the hand passing through the fiHngs; the 
inexhaustible detail of the movement of the 
grains, as well as the order of their final 
arrangement, expresses negatively, in a 
way, this undivided movement, being the 
unitary form of a resistance and not a syn- 
thesis of positive elementary actions. For 



FINALISM 155 

this reason, if the arrangement of the grains 
is termed an ' effect ' and the movement of 
the hand a ' cause/ it may indeed be said 
that the whole of the effect is explained by 
the whole of the cause, but to parts of the 
cause parts of the effect will in no wise 
correspond. In other words, neither 
mechanism nor finalism will here be in 
place." * 

A crab was once defined by an eminent scien- 
tific society as a red fish that walks backwards. 
The definition was correct except that a crab is 
not red, not a fish, and does not walk backwards. 
There are similar discrepancies in the statement 
of M. Bergson just quoted. 

When the hand passes through the filings 
there has not been merely one act, nor has that 
act been indivisible. M. Bergson began by 
saying that the filings should be pressed and that 
they should offer resistance. There, at least, are 
two distinct acts, over and above that of the 
hand, both directed according to a plan. More- 
over, the filings, when they were first filed, were 
filed according to a plan. They obeyed laws, 
some fihng off one shape, others another. 

* Creative Evolution^ pp. 99-100. 



156 BERGSON 

When, therefore, the hand pushes through them, 
it pushes its way into a plan. It does so intelli- 
gently. Its action is divisible, for the owner of 
the hand can stop pushing at any moment he 
chooses. He chooses to go on until he is 
exhausted. Besides, there is the force of gravity 
acting on each of the filings and on the hand. 
All bodies attract and are attracted by all other 
bodies. 

Since then there are so many forces acting, all 
conducing to one state of equilibrium, the final 
arrangement of the filings must express all these 
forces. It cannot be said to express merely the 
push of the hand. And, since there is no effect 
without a cause, each part of the total effect will 
correspond to each part of the total cause. Thus 
the free agent knows that if he thrusts his hand 
into the filings a second time to the same extent 
as he did previously, the same shape of filings 
will result. The form is foreseeable. 

English admirers of M. Bergson, men who 
have been attracted by his theories of change 
and intuition, have been invariably brought to 
a check by his doctrine of finalism. 

Our philosopher-statesman, Mr A. J. Balfour, 
boggles at it. Sir Oliver Lodge tries to explain 



FINALISM 157 

it away, but in doing so he gives away the whole 
case to finalism : 

" Yet there is clearly an aim in all this, 
and life is always subject to its own laws. 
There is a controlling entity in a seed 
whereby, the same product results, no 
matter amid what surroundings. If an 
acorn can grow at all, an oak results." * 

But in the process of creative evolution this ^ 
principle is just what is denied by M. Bergson. 
The controlling entity does not exist before- 
hand, but is created to meet a particular problem 
at a particular crisis. The concept of flowing 
time excludes the concept of controlling laws. 
These belong to the artificial sphere of intellect, 
not to the vital sphere of intuitive vision. Sir 
Oliver may be true to the facts of his own 
science, but he is not true to the theories of 
M. Bergson. 

Mr Balfour would seem to have read the new 
philosopher with more care. Thus does he 
sum up and dispose of the new theory of 
finalism : 

" But why should he banish teleology ."^ 

♦ fftbberi Journal, Jan. 191 2, p. 306. 



158 BERGSON 

In his philosophy superconsciousness is so 
indeterminate that it is not permitted to 
hamper itself with any purpose more 
definite than that of self-augmentation. It 
is ignorant not only of its course, but of 
its goal ; and for the sufficient reason that, 
in M. Bergson*s view, these things are not 
only unknown but unknowable. But is 
there not a certain incongruity between the 
substance of such a philosophy and the 
sentiments associated with it by its author.'* 
Creation, freedom, will — these doubtless 
are great things; but we cannot lastingly 
admire them unless we know their drift. 
We cannot, I submit, rest satisfied with 
what differs so little from the haphazard; 
joy is no fitting consequent of efforts which 
are so nearly aimless. If values are to be 
taken into account, it is surely better to 
invoke God with a purpose, than supra- 
consciousness with none." * 

It is most remarkable that when St. Thomas 
treats of this question of finalism he begins with 
the identical difficulty proposed by M. Bergson. 

" It would seem " he says in proposing 

♦ Hibbert Journal^ Oct. IQII, p. 23. 



FINALISM 159 

the objection, "that God is not the final 
cause of all things, for to act on account of 
an end would seem to imply that the agent 
was in need of something. But God is in 
need of nothing, therefore He does not act 
for the sake of an end." * 



In answer to this, St. Thomas first quotes the 
inspired word that " the Lord hath made all 
things for Himself." t 

This he takes on faith, and then sets his faith 
to seek to understand. 

" Every agent " he says " acts for the 
sake of an end. Otherwise from any given 
action neither this particular thing nor that 
would happen, except by chance. But 
there are some agents which both act and 
are acted upon. These are imperfect 
agents, and whenever they act they must 
intend to acquire some new perfection. 
But the first agent, who acts only and is 
not acted upon, does not act for the sake 
of attaining to some end, but intends only 
to communicate His own perfection, which 

• Summa, pars, la, qu. xliv., a. iv. diff. I. 
f Prov'^Vx. 4. 



i6o BERGSON 

is His own goodness. Thus, therefore, the 
divine goodness is the end of all things. 
Wherefore to act on account of a need is 
but the action of an imperfect agent, which 
is made to act and to be acted upon. But 
this is not so with God's action. So it is 
that He alone is supremely generous, for 
He does not act for His own benefit, but 
merely on account of His goodness." 

It is in the divine goodness then that we must 
seek for the root of the divine finalism. He 
who is the beginning of creatures is also their 
end. " I am the Alpha and Omega." God 
being perfectly happy in Himself could not 
desire an additional perfection. He could only 
desire to communicate His goodness to others. 
Such communication would be an outward 
imitation of His own intrinsic perfections. God 
Himself, therefore, is the plan or ideal upon 
which the universe was formed. 

Whenever anything is produced, there is 
evident need of an exemplar so that the effect 
may have some definite form. Hence all 
created things may be traced to their first 
principle, the Divine Wisdom which thought out 
the order of the universe. In the Divine 



FINALISM i6i 

Wisdom are to be sought the reasons of all 
things. The ideas which are their exemplar are 
found in the divine mind. Of course these 
ideas are only separate from each other in so 
far as they are realised or reaHsable in the 
created world. In the divine mind they are 
identical with each other and identical with the 
divine goodness and identical with divine 
essence. But as there can only be one infinite, 
the outward representation of the divine ideal 
must be finite and inadequate. Hence each 
separate creature is a finite likeness of the infinite 
divine essence. 

Let us ask ourselves now what we commonly 
understand by the word " prudence." A pru- 
dent man is one who has a good memory of past 
events, who is able to grasp a large present 
situation, and from his knowledge of past and 
present is able to make plans against future 
contingencies. The man who knows the first 
principles of things who is able to co-ordinate 
his principles into general knowledge, and who 
can apply his general knowledge for the attain- 
ment of some desirable end is said to be emin- 
ently wise. 

But God can do all these things with one 

L 



i62 . BERGSON 

thought and one volition. He therefore is wise 
and prudent supereminently. He therefore can 
and does exercise a providence over His 
created world, adapting right means to right 
ends, co-ordinating and subordinating all proxi- 
mate and intermediate ends to the one final end. 
What we understand by " prudence " or 
" wisdom " or " providence " in man is realised 
in God infinitely. Hence we have the classic 
definition of divine providence — ipsa divina 
ratio in stimmo omnium principe constituta 
quae cuncta disponit — the all-regulating and 
stable plan of God, the supreme ruler of the 
universe. 

Moreover, the God who is infinitely perfect 
is unchangeable. Change would imply the 
acquisition of a new perfection. Since, there- 
fore, God is unchangeable, He must have settled 
from all eternity the final goal to which all His 
creatures should be directed. 

Again, since His wisdom existed from eternity 
He must from eternity have fixed the various 
ways by which these creatures should come to 
their ultimate end. He not only has set Him- 
self a plan, but He also has applied His intelli- 
gence and will to the working out of the plan in 



FINALISM 163 

such a way that nothing shall happen to prevent 
His desire from being realised. 

At this point we must distinguish carefully 
between that which God approves, and that 
which, for good reasons, He merely tolerates. 
He approves of good acts, whilst He only toler- 
ates or permits bad acts. When we speak of 
God tolerating or permitting sin, we do not mean 
that He gives permission to sin, but only that 
He does not hinder the creature from exercising 
his free will in sinning. God could hinder it, 
but does not, and so we speak of Him as 
tolerating it. With this distinction before 
our minds, we are able to lay down the principle 
that whatever happens in the world, happens 
according to the will of God, positively or 
permissively. 

Thus then, does the eternal Father preside 
over His own creation. There is neither a sun 
nor a grain of dust, not the cry of a bird nor the 
fall of a snow-flake, not a human thought nor a 
human desire which escapes His all-wise and 
all-loving control. Every created movement is 
subordinated to one final plan, known and willed 
eternally by God. 

This external representation of divine per- 



i64 BERGSON 

fections is called the external glory of God. His 
internal glory can be known to none but Himself. 
In so far as creatures, by their existence and 
activity, are apt to manifest some divine perfec- 
tion, they are said to render a material glory to 
God. " The heavens show forth the glory of 
God, and the firmament declareth the work of 
His hands." And when intelligent beings, 
seeing the reflections of the divine perfections in 
creation, acknowledge them in thought, word 
and deed, then they are said to render formal 
glory to God. Thus all parts of creation, 
rational and irrational, have this for their final 
end to make one harmonious hymn of praise to 
their Creator. 

Hence the finalism which we adopt is the very 
antithesis of mechanism, direct or inverted. 
The very nature of the ideal and of the means 
of realising it expressly includes the operation 
of free will. 

In the first place, the final end is not some 
benefit accruing to the Creator of which He 
stands in need. God is the object of external 
praise and glory. He chooses to receive it, 
however, because it implies His bounteousness, 
His spontaneity in giving of His treasure. 



FINALISM 165 

Nor yet is there a mechanism absorbing the 
various parts of creation. Wherever there is a 
rational creature there is an interplay of nec- 
essary and contingent causes. Nay, whatever 
of mechanism there is in the universe, it is 
intended to be at the service of the rational 
creation ; and the right use of it is one of the 
ways in which man renders formal praise to the 
Creator. Thus the plan supposes that some 
intermediate ends should be brought about by 
contingent causes and some by necessary causes. 
" God moves the will of man like a universal 
power, moving the will to its universal object, 
namely that which is good. Without this 
universal motion man could not will anything. 
Yet man, by his reason, determines himself to 
will this or that, something which may be either 
a real good or only an apparent good. And 
sometimes, too, God moves men in a special way 
to will some definite good. This is the case 
when He moves them by grace." '^ 

There has ever been a tendency in certain 
schools to look upon this action of God moving 
the will as something mechanical, and savouring 
of determinism. This comes about through ^n 

* Sumfna, la, 2ae, quix, a. vi., ad. 3m. 



i66 BERGSON 

abuse of analogy. The divine strength does 
not come from ourselves. It comes from God 
who is transcendent. But the transcendent God 
is also immanent. The power and particular 
movement which He gives to our wills, there- 
fore, is not mechanical and superimposed from 
without, but vital and communicated from with- 
in. The God who is the Life of life is the 
energising principle of the action. 

The analogy of a carpenter using a saw is 
good in so far as it represents God as distinct 
from ourselves, and keeps us from forming a 
pantheistic conception of Him. But it is inade- 
quate. It might be supplemented by the 
analogy of a plant and its root. The root gives 
an impulse to the plant. This impulse, how- 
ever, does not steriHse the proper action of the 
branches and leaves, but rather quickens it. So 
also the action of the will of God on the will of 
man does not destroy man's Hberty, but rather 
promotes and ensures it as part of the divine 
plan. 

Thus Christian finalism is the very antithesis 
of the doctrine of man's self-perfectibility. The 
whole meaning of Alpha and Omega is that man 
realises himself most by depending absolutely 



FINALISM 167 

on God. Man is dependent on God for his 
beginning, for his continuation, and for his end. 
If he chooses his own method of perfecting 
himself, following only such goodness as attracts 
his sensual appetites, he will most assuredly not 
attain to independence. If he does not depend 
on God willingly as a vessel of mercy, he will 
have to depend upon Him unwillingly as a 
victim of justice. The general plan provides 
for these alternatives. Whether, therefore, a 
man freely turns to God, or whether he freely 
turns away from Him, the divine plan is 
realised. The sinner in hell shows forth the 
glory of God, manifesting His justice. The 
glory of formal praise is willed by God only con- 
ditionally, not absolutely. " I call heaven and 
earth to witness this day, that I have set before 
you life and death, blessing and cursing. Choose 
therefore life." * 

Thus Christian finalism may be summed up 
in the beautiful words of Lactantius : 

" The world was made that we might be 
bom. We were born that we might know 
God. We know Him that we may worship 

'^* Deut. XXX., 19. 



i68 BERGSON 

Him. We worship Him that we may earn 
immortality. We are rewarded with im- 
mortality that, being made like unto the 
angels, we may serve our Father and Lord 
for ever, and be the eternal kingdom of 
God."* 

♦/«i-/i7. vii., 8. 



CHAPTER VII 

THE DIVINE FECUNDITY 

Since everything in the philosophy of change is 
upside down, so we must examine the first cause 
last. We have seen the creative evolution in 
its flux, we have gathered that it can only be 
caught during flashes of intuition, we have 
understood that its direction is determined 
neither by mechanical forces nor intellectual 
motives, and we have tried to apprehend how the 
whole process could happen without any pre- 
conceived plan. We come now to examine the 
actual principle itself which is supposed to do all 
these things. 

Of course we intend to use our intelligence 
in our inquiry. It is needful to make this 
remark because M. Bergson rather postulates 
that we shall not do so. 

" Everything," he says, " is obscure in 
169 



I70 BERGSON 

the idea of creation if we think of tlnngs 
which are created, and a tJung which 
creates, as we habitually do, as the under- 
standing cannot help doing." ^ 

That is just what the hatter said. " If you 
knew Time as well as I do," said the Hatter, 
" you wouldn't talk about wasting it. It's hifn'' 

" I don't know what you mean," said Alice. 

"Of course you don't!" the Hatter said, 
tossing his head contemptuously.! 

If the new God Chronos is not intelligible 
then it was silly to write a book describing him. 
If we cannot make him intelligible we can at 
least show where he is unintelligible. 

Our first point of inquiry will be to see how 
far the God Time involves a dualist or a monist 
universe. In our first chapter | we said that M. 
Bergson professed to be a dualist. We now 
venture to declare that, in spite of what he says, 
and in spite of what his disciples may say, he is 
a radical monist. 

Monism § is a term invented by Wolff to 

• Creative Evolution, p. 26 1. 

f Alice in IVonderland. 

: p. 2. 

§ For a full treatment of this subject see : De^- Monismus ttnd 
sein4 philosophirahe Grucdlagen, von Friedrich Klimke, S.J. Frei- 
burg, Herder. 



THE DIVINE FECUNDITY 171 

designate any philosophy which recognises in 
the whole sphere of existence only one (/novoi) 
kind of being. This kind of being may be 
either matter or spirit. If the one substance be 
regarded as matter then the monism is called 
materialist ; if spirit, then it is called spiritualist. 
Spiritualist monism may be either intellectualist, 
voluntarist, or transcendental. A philosophy 
which teaches that there are two distinct kinds of 
being is known as dualist (Svo, two). ¥ the 
monism is spiritualist it will include God and 
thus will be pantheistic. If it is materialist it 
will exclude God and thus will be atheistic. 

At first sight there would seem to be in the 
system of M. Bergson two kinds of being, 
ascending life and descending matter. The 
ascending life is variously spoken of as " con- 
sciousness," " super-consciousness,'* " duration," 
"vital push," "choice," "freedom," " intuition," 
" will." It is never defined because it is seen 
only by intuition and so cannot be defined. 
From what we have observed, however, of its 
action and functions, we may describe it as a 
conscious vital push which sees intuitively 
and which wills according to the exigencies of 
creation. 



172 BERGSON 

Whatever else this force is or is not, it is 
original in the strictest sense of the word. 
However incoherent the statement may seem 
we are bound to say that in the system of M. 
Bergson this force creates itself. All at once, in 
the twinkling of an eye, with no sound of 
trumpet to herald its coming, nay, with no eye 
to twinkle upon it, it begins. 

" At a certain moment in certain points 
of space, a visible current has taken rise ; 
this current of Hfe, traversing the bodies it 
has organised one after another, passing 
from generation to generation, has become 
divided amongst species and distributed 
amongst individuals without losing anything 
of its force, rather intensifying in propor- 
tion to its advance." * 

Again, this life which starts itself and intensi- 
fies itself, also bifurcates itself. The division 
into animal and vegetable lines, into the lines of 
instinct and reason are due to two causes which 
life bears within itself. As to the cause of these 
causes, well, it simply began at the given centre 
at which life began. 

* Creative Evolution, p. 27. 



THE DIVINE FECUNDITY 173 

" So of the way life breaks into indi- 
viduals or species. It depends, we think, 
on two series of causes : the resistance life 
meets from inert matter, and the explosive 
force — due to an unstable balance of ten- 
dencies — which life bears within itself." *" 

" But the real and profound causes of 
division were those which life bore within its 
bosom. For life is tendency, and the 
essence of a tendency is to develop in the 
form of a sheaf, creating, by its very 
growth, divergent directions among which 
its impetus is divided." t 

Here, be it noticed, we find matter already in 
existence and exercising its function of modify- 
ing life. But whence did the matter come? 
Did that start of itself from some given centre? 
In order to find out the genesis of matter we 
must recall the whole of the Bergsonian doctrine 
of time, space, intuition, and intellect. Then we 
shall see that this descending matter is but the ; 
inversion of ascending force. 

First let us make a number of efforts at 
intuition. Each glimpse will give us a sight of 
the extra-spatial. Then as each glimpse fades 

* Creative E7.'olution^ p. 103. 
t Ibid., p. 104. 



174 BERGSON 

away the extra-spatial will be observed to 
degrade itself into spatiality. This will be all the 
more evident to us in proportion to the strain we 
put upon ourselves. Let us make ourselves 
self-conscious in the highest possible degree. 
Then we shall feel ourselves as it were, outside 
space and right in the middle of the fluid " now." 
But then let us relax ourselves and fall back 
little by little. Then we shall feel that we are 
in the solid flesh after all, and that what was an 
indivisible flux has become a divisible extension. 

" We have an extension of the self into 
recollections that are fixed and external to 
one another, in place of the tension it 
possessed as an indivisible active will." * 

Our consciousness in this way shows us the 
direction of the movement. But it is not able 
to follow the whole course of the movement. 
Our intellect sees matter whilst our intuition sees 
life. And as our consciousness assumes now 
the form of intuition and now the form of intel- 
lect, we recognise that we hold two ends of a 
chain, though we do not succeed in seizing the 
intervening links. 

• Creative Evolutton^ p. 219. 



THE DIVINE FECUNDITY 175 

Philosophy, that is, intuition, has not yet 
become completely conscious of itself. But, 
since it is in a process of evolution, it may even- 
tually come to see matter in its actual genesis. 
For the present, however, we may infer, by com- 
paring our intuitional views with our intellectual 
views, that matter is but the inversion of life. 

Physics has hitherto done its duty in pushing 
matter in the direction of spatiality. But meta- 
physics has been on the wrong track in simply 
treading in the footsteps of physics. It was a 
chimerical hope to expect to be able to go further 
in the same direction. It should have been 
recognised that the direction of intuition is the 
very opposite to that of intellect. The task of 
metaphysics should be "to remount the incHne 
which physics descends, to bring back matter 
to its origins, and to build up progressively a 
cosmology which would be, so to speak, a 
reversed psychology. All that which seems 
positive to the physicist and to the geometrician 
would become from this new point of view, an 
interruption or inversion of the true positivity, 
which have to be defined in psychological 
terms." * 

* Creative Evolution, p. 219. 



176 BERGSON 

Now if matter is but the inversion of spirit, if 
metaphysics is but the inversion of physics, and 
cosmology and psychology, then obviously there 
is but one radical kind of being. M. Bergson's 
observations are shrewd enough to show him 
the great difference between body and spirit. 
On the surface then he is a dualist. But he has 
to make this doctrine square with the doctrine 
of change. He has to account for the origin of 
that which is inert. So he makes matter the 
inversion of Hfe. He begins as a dualist but 
ends as a monist. 

Doubtless this idea of matter being but the 
inversion of life will not commend itself as being 
clear and coherent in itself. Indeed M. Bergson 
warns us that here we are entering the most 
obscure regions of metaphysics. Let us de- 
cline, however, to be hoodwinked. If M. 
Bergson is going to take us from the known to 
the unknown he must satisfy us as to the 
stepping-stones. He must not ask us to step 
out on to soft ooze, or into the dark, presuming 
that it will be all right. Observe then a few of 
his nebulosities. 

" This long analysis (i.e. of the ideas of 
order and disorder) was necessary to show 



THE DIVINE FECUNDITY 177 

how the real can pass from tension to 
extension and from freedom to mechanical 
necessity by way of inversion. . . . We 
must now examine more closely the inver- 
sion whose consequences we have just 
described. What then is the principle that 
has only to let go its tension — we may say 
to detend — in order to extend the interrup- 
tion of the cause here being equivalent to 
a reversal of the effect? For want of a 
better word we have to call it consciousness. 
But we do not mean the narrowed con- 
sciousness that functions in each of us. 
Our own consciousness is the consciousness 
of a certain living being, placed in a certain 
point of space ; and though it does indeed 
move in the same direction as its principle, 
it is continually drawn the opposite way, 
obliged, though it goes forward, to look 
behind. This retrospective vision is, as 
we have shown, the natural function of 
the intellect, and consequently of distinct 
consciousness." ^ 

This is one of the most luminous passages we 
can find. We venture to interpret it as follows. 
Consciousness stretches itself as far as possible. 
Then it lets go. Or again, first it concentrates 

* Creative Evolution, p. 250. 



178 BERGSON 

itself on itself for a living active moment. Then 
it allows itself to be distracted. Thus the 
stretching or concentrating makes tension. The 
letting go or dissipation makes detension. 
When the detending has finished extension is 
the result. Consciousness detends in order to 
extend. But only life can stretch itself or con- 
centrate itself. And since matter is found 
already extended we presume that it has arrived 
through the detension of life. Hence we see 
that matter has its origin in life. If that is not 
clear pray listen again. 

" Is it extension in general that we are 
considering in ah sir ado? Extension, we 
said, appears only as a tension which has 
been interrupted. Or, are we considering 
the concrete reality that fills this extension } 
The order which reigns there, and which 
is manifested by the laws of nature, is an 
order which must be born of itself when the 
inverse order is suppressed ; a detension of 
the will would produce precisely this sup- 
pression. 

" Lastly, we find that the direction which 
this reality takes, suggests to us the idea 
of a thing unmaking itself ; such, no doubt, 
is one of the essential characters of 



THE DIVINE FECUNDITY 179 

materiality. What conclusion are we to 
draw from all this, if not that the process 
by which this thing makes itself is directed 
in a contrary way to that of physical pro- 
cesses, and that it is therefore, by its very 
definition, immaterial ? 

" The vision we have of the material 
world is that of a weight which falls; no 
image drawn from matter, properly so 
called, will ever give us the idea of weight 
rising. . . . All our analyses show us, in 
life, an effort to remount the incline that 
matter descends. In that they reveal to us 
the possibihty, the necessity even of a pro- 
cess the inverse of materiality, creative of 
matter by its interruption alone." * 

For the present let us suspend our judgment 
as to the coherence of this idea of inversion. 
Let us suppose that the interruption of the 
stream of life creates matter. Let us grant that 
the words represent a validly logical process and 
not a mere jumble of ideas. Then the point we 
have undertaken to make is established. If 
matter is but the inversion of spirit then both 
are ultimately one and the same thing, and M. 
Bergson whilst nominally a dualist is radically 
a monist. 

* Crtativi Evolution^-^y^. 258-259. 



i8o BERGSON 

" Intellect and matter," he says, " have 
progressively adapted themselves one to 
the other in order to attain at last a common 
form. This adaptation has, moreover, been 
brought about quite naturally, because it is 
il^e same inversion of the same movement 
which creates at once the intellectuality 
. of mind a?id the materiality of things."" * 

This unification of the universe turns M. 
Bergson into a poet. Listen to his dithyramb: 

" Thus to the eyes of a philosophy that 
attempts to re-absorb intellect in intuition 
many difficulties vanish or become light. 
But such a doctrine does not only facilitate 
speculation ; it gives us also more power to 
act and to live. For, with it, we feel our- 
selves no longer isolated in humanity, 
humanity no longer seems isolated in the 
nature that it dominates. As the smallest 
grain of dust is bound up with our entire 
solar system, drawn along with it in that 
undivided movement of descent which is 
materiality itself, so all organised beings, 
from the humblest to the highest, from the 
first origins of life to the time in which we 
are, and in all places as in all times, do but 

* Creative Evolution , p. 217. 



THE DIVINE FECUNDITY i8i 

evidence a single Impulsion, the inverse of 
the movement of matter, and in itself in- 
divisible. All the living hold together, and 
all yield to the same tremendous push." ^ 

Next we may note the incoherence of this new 
notion of inversion. An original impulse first 
starts off. But how does it turn back upon 
itself.^ Whence does it derive a direction 
antagonistic to itself.^ How can the very con- 
tradiction of a force spring from that force? 
How can descent be produced by ascent? 
Granting, in a word, that the vital push has 
certain potentialities, whence does it derive the 
principle by which these potentialities are 
actuated? Until these questions are answered, 
the whole concept must be written off as fraught 
with inconsistency and self-contradition. 

Or again, we may note a vicious circle in the 
process. In order that life may ascend it is 
supposed to require matter to enable it to do so. 
Its ascent is a march of conquest. Matter is 
wanted to provide life with problems, the solu- 
tion of which constitutes creative evolution. 
But in order that matter may be thus placed at 

* Creative Evolution, p. 285. 



i82 BERGSON 

the service of life, life must first ascend and 
become inverted. The ladder is upstairs. How 
shall we get it down? Here is a lacuna in the 
philosophy of change. The polite thing is just 
to peep at it and then cover it over again with 
the abundance of flowers which M. Bergson 
provides for us. 

We have already seen, in our study of final- 
ism, that no evolution could possibly have been 
set in motion without some intelligent direction. 
But something more is required than mere aim. 
The arrow does not fly off to the target by reason 
of its own self-propulsion. Motion presupposes 
a motor. So also is it with this vital push. 
Who started it pushing? Who pressed the 
button for such a wonderful system of change- 
ringing ? 

Both the principle of identity and the principle 
of causality are here skipped over as if they did 
not matter. But they do matter. We must 
write them down again, else we may be beguiled 
from the path of common sense. A thing is 
what it is as long as it is what it is, and so long 
as it is what it is it is not something else. That 
means that amoebas do not of themselves change 
their essence and merge into monkeys. An 



THE DIVINE FECUNDITY 183 

amoeba is always an amoeba and a monkey is 
always a monkey. Further, every effect must 
have a cause. But every change is an effect. 
Therefore every change must have a cause. 

Most especially are these principles applicable 
to the changes in creative evolution. Here 
invariably the changes are from something less 
to something greater. They involve the ex- 
tremely active conditions of intuition and free- 
dom. Their glory is that by them are created 
absolutely new forms, unforeseen and unfore- 
seeable. Whence come all these potentialities 
and activities.'^ What makes instinct develop 
so astonishingly in the Hne of bees? What 
makes intelligence appear rather in the line of 
man.'^ What holds back the mollusc with its 
splendid eyesight from entering into competition 
with man? 

Evidently these questions have troubled M. 
Bergson. He speaks of the "torturing prob- 
lems " to which the idea of " nothing " gives rise. 
Eventually he dares to admit that there is some 
great Principle at the bottom of the universe. 

" Whence comes it," he asks, " and how 
can it be understood, that anything exists? 



i84 BERGSON 

Even here in the present work, when 
matter has been defined as a kind of 
descent, this descent as the interruption of 
a rise, this rise itself as a growth, when 
finally a principle of creation has been put 
at the base of things, the same question 
springs up: How — why does this principle 
exist rather than nothing ? " ^ 

The answer to this question would be simple 
enough if M. Bergson had not poisoned the 
wells of knowledge. By wilfully suppressing 
the concept of " being," and substituting the 
concept of " becoming," he has blinded himself 
to that most obvious and primary truth, that a 
thing is what it is as long as it is what it is, the 
truth known as the principle of identity. Con- 
sequently he has cut himself off from that being 
who is essentially being. He has no place for 
being which exists of itself in one eternal and 
unchanging present. Having burnt his boats 
he has destroyed his only chance of escape. 
Hence he is in this predicament: he must create 
a God according to his own image and likeness. 

On the one hand he allows himself to speak of 
his God as " a centre from which worlds shoot 

♦ Creative Evolution, pp. 290-291. 



THE DIVINE FECUNDITY 185 

out like rockets in a fireworks display " ; ^ but on 
the other hand he says that he " does not present 
this centre as a thing, but as a continuity of 
shooting out. God, thus defined, has nothing 
of the already made ; He is unceasing life, 
action, freedom." t In other words, his God is 
the God of change, not the unchangeable God ; 
the God of time, not the God of eternity. 

M. Bergson has a number of names for this 
God, each more or less descriptive. First we 
may consider the great principle as time. That 
would be all very well if we used the word 
as a metaphor. Time, for instance, can heal a 
broken heart. Time, enough of it, enables eels 
to get used to being skinned. But putting 
metaphors aside, we cannot think of time as 
creating anything at all. It is not even an active 
principle. It is merely an effect, the measure- 
ment of motion. 

Or again, we may consider the principle as 
duration {la duree). If I have endured from 
my birth until now, again that is an effect, not a 
cause. If the creative principle is to produce 
anything at all it must at least produce existence. 

♦ Creative Evolution^ p. 262. 
"f Ibid,, p. 262, 



i86 BERGSON 

But duration presupposes existence. I must 
actually be in existence in order to continue in 
existence. To say that duration is the creative 
principle of existence is to say that the effect is 
the cause of the cause. 

Then we may regard the principle as a vital 
push. But a push supposes a pusher. There 
can be no action without an agent. Action 
without an agent would be a very useful com- 
modity in business. There is a fortune awaiting 
the man who will discover it. It will drive steam 
engines without steam, electrical engines with- 
out electricity. But where will you find it? It 
is as elusive as a snark. You may seek it with 
thimbles, with care, with smiles, with forks, with 
hope, and with soap, and even then every time 
you put your finger on it you will find it is not 
there. Why? Because self-creation is an in- 
coherent idea. And if it cannot exist as a 
concept of the mind, a fortiori it cannot exist in 
the world of reality. 

No one gives what he has not got. Therefore 
no one can give existence who does not already 
possess it. The very notion of creation postu- 
lates a Creator. 

Let us, however, for the sake of argument, 



THE DIVINE FECUNDITY 187 

grant that there is a pure becoming which 
creates the things which we see, ourselves 
included. Even then the ultimate question 
would be still unanswered, for pure becoming 
could never be a iirst cause. M. Bergson 
indeed admits and claims that the pure becom- 
ing possesses some perfections and is devoid of 
others. It is partly in actuahty and partly in 
potentiality. Being possessed of this double 
quality it necessarily presupposes a pure 
actuality. An absolutely first cause must 
be one that is actuated to every possible 
perfection. 

Here we are at the very foundation of 
philosophy. We must begin with axioms. We 
submit the following as self-evident. 

A thing is perfect in so far as it is in actuality ; 
it is imperfect, however, in so far as it is in 
potentiality. 

An altogether pure actuality is altogether 
perfect. 

A potentiality as such can never reduce itself 
to actuality, but it must be reduced to actuality 
by some active principle. 

Every changeable being possesses actuality 
and potentiality. 



t88 BERGSON 

! Actuality is always prior to potentiality. 

Wherefore, since becoming has some perfec- 
tion, it is partly in actuality. And since it is 
devoid of some perfection, it is partly in poten- 
tiality. Now whence did it derive its actuality? 
Certainly not from its potentiality, for no poten- 
tiality can reduce itself to actuality. We must 
therefore have recourse to some ultimate active 
principle which is pure actuality. 

Hence we are driven back from the God of 
change, as described by M. Bergson, to the 
God of a full and active eternity, as described by 
St. Thomas. 

" Everything that has in its substance," 
writes the AngeHc Doctor, "an admixture 
of potentiality, to the extent that it has 
potentiality is liable not to be : because what 
can be, can also not be. But God in Himself 
cannot not be, seeing that He is everlast- 
ing ; therefore there is in God no poten- 
tiality. 

" Although in order of time, that which 
is sometimes in potentiality, sometimes in 
actuality, is in potentiality before it is in 
actuality, yet, absolutely speaking, actuality 
is prior to potentiality, because potentiality 
does not bring itself into actuality, but is 



THE DIVINE FECUNDITY 189 

brought into actuality by something which 
is already in actuality. Everything there- 
fore that is in any way in potentiality has 
something else prior to it. But God is the 
first being, and the first cause, and there- 
fore has not in Himself any admixture of 
potentiality. 

" Everything acts inasmuch as it is in 
actuality. Whatever then is not all 
actuality, does not act by its whole self, is 
not a prime agent ; for it acts by participa- 
tion in something else, not by its own 
essence. The prime agent then, which is 
God, has no admixture of potentiality, but 
is pure actuahty. 

"We see that there is that in the world 
which passes from potentiality to actuality. 
But it does not educe itself from potenti- 
ality to actuality, because what is in poten- 
tiality is not as yet, and therefore cannot 
act. Therefore there must be some other 
prior thing, whereby this thing may be 
brought out from potentiality to actuality. 
And again, if this further thing is going out 
from potentiality to actuality, there must be 
posited before it yet some other thing, 
whereby it may be reduced to actuality. 
But this process cannot go on for ever: 
therefore we must come to something that 



I90 BERGSON 

is only in actuality, and nowise in potenti- 
ality ; and that we call God." * 

Even then though we did grant that the 
principle of creative evolution were a pure 
becoming the problem would still remain as to 
how, why, when, and wherefore that becoming 
began to become. 

The truth is that M. Bergson has reversed 
the dictates of common sense. He has made 
becoming prior to being; he has made poten- 
tiality superior to actuality ; he has made non- 
being superior to being. Worked out to its 
ultimate absurdity, his philosophy implies that 
the first cause is non-being. Then where did 
we all come from ? We simply grew. 

Listen how M. Bergson avows all this : 

" We said " he writes " there is more in a 
movement than in the successive positions 
attributed to the moving object, more in a 
becoming than in the forms passed through 
in turn, more in the evolution of form than 
in the forms assumed one after another." t 

Thus becoming is more perfect than being, a 

♦ Contra Cfntes, Lib. I., Cap. XVI. 
I Creativt Evolutian^ p. 333. 



THE DIVINE FECUNDITY 191 

mixture of potentiality and actuality more perfect 
than pure actuality. 

But once again, no one can give what he has 
not got. A man can not do more than he is 
" up to." The imperfect cannot of itself roll 
out into the perfect. Hence self-perfectibility is 
seen to be not only a theological heresy, but 
also a metaphysical absurdity. 

At this point we may ask why should M. 
Bergson, and with him the whole school of 
modernist philosophy, prefer a changeable and 
perfectible God to an unchangeable and all- 
perfect God. It is because they will not take 
the trouble to understand St. Thomas's doctrine. 
They will regard unchangeableness as a sort of 
petrifaction. They will not see in it the very 
fulness of activity. They, who are so ready to 
impute anthropomorphism to the orthodox, are 
themselves shut up in the crudest anthropomor- 
phism. Seeing that the anthfopos is always 
changing they are unable to rise to the concept 
of a theos which never changes. Their mistake 
is not that of thinking of God in human thought- 
forms. We all do that, nor can we think of 
God in any other way. Their mistake is in 
forgetting that their thought-forms are human, 



192 BERGSON 

and in taking them to be adequate representa- 
tions of the ultimate unspeakable reality. 

Having pointed out the shortcomings of the 
God of time and change, it remains for us to 
give a more positive description of our own 
timeless and unchangeable God. He not only 
possesses life, and gives life to all living 
creatures, but He is life itself. 

Our knowledge of God's life can only be 
obtained by inference of what we know of our 
own. Now we know of our own lives that they 
are imperfect. Every day we gain new experi- 
ence. There is always something new for us to 
know and to enjoy. No morrow comes and 
finds us exactly in the same condition as we were 
yesterday. We are always in a state of transi- 
tion from potentiality to actuality. 

God, on the contrary, since He is absolutely 
perfect, is incapable of acquiring new perfections. 
His incapacity to change is due not to an 
exhaustion or want of activity, but to a complete 
fulness of activity. This activity indeed is so 
perfect and absolute that it admits of no poten- 
tiality whatever. Hence He is incapable of any 
transition from potentiality to actuality. 

The life therefore which we attribute to God 



THE DIVINE FECUNDITY 193 

is life of the most eminent kind, a kind wholly 
different from ours, for it is all pure actuality. 
Ours is only a participation of Hfe, and so we 
are said to possess Hfe. But God is all life, and 
so we say that He is life. No one gives it to 
Him. He is it from all eternity. 

Moreover, He gives it to all who share in it. 
He is the Life of all lives. " Ye men of Athens 
. . . God who made the world and all things 
therein, He, being Lord of heaven and earth, 
dwelleth not in temples made with hands, neither 
is He served with men's hands as if He needed 
anything ; seeing it is He who giveth to all life, 
and breath, and all things." ^ 

Nor is the life of God a sort of fiery volcano, 
not a huge disordered sphere of activity with a 
continuity of shooting out. Divine life is 
activity of the highest order. We give it the 
nearest description possible when we say that it 
is a life of perfect wisdom. 

Again, even the wisdom which we attribute to 
God is known only by the analogy of human 
wisdom. Human wisdom is that mental activity 
which peers into both speculative and practical 
truth, and ordains things to their proper end. 

♦ Acts xvii., 22 et *eq, 
N 



194 BERGSON 

This is undoubtedly the supreme attribute of 
God. It is the highest form of spirit life that we 
can imagine. When we speak of God as the 
Being, that does not express to us His vital 
activity. When we speak of Him as the Life, 
that does not express to us the more interesting 
attributes of knowledge and love. But when we 
speak of Him as the Wisdom, then we express 
His life of intelligence and love, and we see how 
this intelligence and love acts both within and 
without, inwardly understanding and loving the 
Divine Essence, outwardly understanding and 
loving all creation. 

Thus it is by His wisdom that God knows all 
possible truth, and loves all possible good. It is 
by His wisdom that He forms a due estimate of 
the value of all things in reference to His final 
plan. It is by His wisdom that He is able to 
economise and order all things in accord with this 
plan. Hence wisdom expresses the sum total of 
God's activities, that full perfection of life, so 
perfect as to admit of no further perfection. 

Moreover, this activity of divine intellect and 
will is no cold intellectualism or uninterested 
volitionalism. It is an activity which constitutes 
an infinite happiness and glory. 



THE DIVINE FECUNDITY 195 

Happiness is the satisfaction and restfulness 
in the fruition of some good known and loved. 
But God both knows and loves the most perfect 
goodness and beauty. He is Himself the 
exemplar and source of all possible goodness 
and beauty. But He knows Himself. Such 
knowledge can only prompt the most perfect 
love. Such love can only make the most perfect 
rapture and happiness. 

This divine activity, too, produces the greatest 
possible splendour. The divine intelligence and 
love are aglow with the riches of truth and good- 
ness. We all know the brightness of a household 
where a happy child is playing about. Happiness 
sheds brightness everywhere and always. Every 
little ray of brightness which is shed by a happy 
creature is an indication of the glory which 
emanates from the divine blessedness. If God's 
happiness is supreme so also must His splen- 
dour be supreme. Well may St. Timothy 
speak of " the glory of the blessed God." ^ 

This fact of God deriving His happiness and 
splendour from His own intrinsic wealth serves 
again to show up the fallacy of the modern 

♦ I Tim. i., II. 



196 BERGSON 

doctrine of man's self-perfectibility. If one 
thing is obvious in the present rush and tear of 
society it is that a man can never be satisfied 
with his own intrinsic wealth. He must always 
be seeking happiness from without. Every 
improvement in his well-being is due to some 
educative influence from without, and if the 
series of causes which contribute to man's happi- 
ness be traced to their ultimate source, they will 
be found to lead to that cause which is un- 
caused, the God whose happiness and splen'Hour 
is supreme, the wisdom which has no needs 
within itself, but which is the satisfaction of all 
needs outside itself. 

Naturally we pay more attention to the divine 
fecundity which is manifested in creation than 
to that which is active within the bosom of God 
Himself. Yet, after all, the inner fecundity of 
God is the most important of all mysteries. It 
has a practical bearing on our own lives. If 
only we could realise a little more the intrinsic 
beauties of the Godhead, we should appreciate 
more the divine condescension in creating an 
outer world to share in the divine happiness. 
The outward fecundity of God takes on a much 
greater significance when considered together 



THE DIVINE FECUNDITY 197 

with the inward fecundity of God, the mystery 
of the Blessed Trinity. 

We do not pretend that we can explain either 
the mystery without or the mystery within. A 
mystery is a truth which is partly revealed and 
partly concealed. But what we do say is that 
if we take these mysteries as we know them, that 
is, in so far as they are revealed to our under- 
standing, even then, they are far more intelli- 
gible than the Bergsonian fireworks. 

Let us first try to apprehend something of the 
richness, fulness, and consistency of the inner 
fecundity of the divine life. 

To begin with, God is a pure and infinite 
actuality. In this He is essentially different 
from all His creatures. Consequently His 
internal productivity will be quite different from 
that which we observe in creatures. It is not a 
reproduction of the divine nature as the forma- 
tion of a new man is the reproduction of a 
human nature. We are forbidden to say that 
there can be three Gods. 

Nor yet is the inner fecundity a production of 
organisms whereby the divine life may develop 
and extend itself. It is wholly within, wholly 
immanent. It is an energy which is expressed 



198 BERGSON 

in distinct subjects, yet all within the one divine 
nature. What can these subjects be ? 

Once again we have recourse to human ana- 
logies. We ask ourselves what are the highest 
forms of activity that we know. They are intelli- 
gence and will. And the subject in which 
intelligence and will are united is a personality. 
How shall we describe these personalities ? 

We have seen that the attribute of wisdom is 
the most adequate description of the divine life 
that we can think of. This term also indicates 
the kind of fecundity. Wisdom is at once the 
most perfect knowledge of the most perfect truth 
and the most perfect love of the most perfect 
good. The divine fecundity therefore issues as 
acts of the divine intellect and the divine will. 
The results of these acts must express and 
complete the divine knowledge and volition. 
As finished products they are the most perfect 
outcome of the divine wisdom. Each of them is 
a complete actuahty, unmixed with the slightest 
trace of any potentiality. If this were not 
so they would not be complete. They would 
still be capable of additional perfection. 

But the perfect wisdom of God consists of 
two activities, namely knowledge and volition. 



THE DIVINE FECUNDITY 199 

As the outcome of the divine fecundity, there- 
fore, there will be two personalities, one issuing 
as the divine intelligence, the other as the divine 
love. But intelligence and love in God are not 
independent of each other. God neither under- 
stands without loving nor loves without under- 
standing. Knowledge is the way to love. Even 
in the divine fecundity nothing can be loved that 
is not already known. Hence the knowledge, 
which is the term of the divine understanding, is 
a knowledge which breathes forth love. To 
the personality which is the principle of the 
divine fecundity there is given the appropriate 
name of Father; to that which is the offspring 
by way of understanding, the name of Son ; and 
to that which is the offspring by way of a double 
breathing out of love, the name of Holy Ghost. 

Taken at its lowest estimate this account of 
the inner fecundity of God is a magnificent 
working hypothesis. It is fraught with none 
of the puerilities of the Bergsonian half-made 
centre which is a continuity of shooting-out. 
Although the union of three persons in one 
nature is a truth transcending human reason it 
does not do violence to human reason in the way 
that the Bergsonian speculations do. And when 



200 BERGSON 

the theory is read in the light of the inspired 
word it becomes much more than a reasonable 
working hypothesis. It becomes a certitude of 
a very high order. 

See, for instance, how the title Wisdom is 
appropriated to the Son because He is the re- 
flection of the Father. Notice how the title 
Logos of the Greek Testament harmonises with 
the Verbum of the scholastics. Both concepts 
were derived from widely different sources, yet 
both are most aptly used to express the supreme, 
initial, eternal and final judgment of the God- 
head. So, too, with the Holy Spirit. He is 
said to proceed as the " Gift " or " Pledge " of 
love. And if love in human beings is essentially 
an act of the will, and not passion or feeling, 
much more so is it in God. Just as knowledge 
tends towards expression, so love tends towards 
effusion. 

The difficulty of forming a mental picture of 
all this productivity is due to our experience of 
ourselves. When we produce things it is 
because we want them. In God there is no 
want. The real basis of the divine fecundity is 
not a need to produce something. It is not 
the need of further perfection. It is the very 



THE DIVINE FECUNDITY 201 

fulness of divine life. By the light of reason we 
could never have guessed that this fecundity 
would issue in two divine persons. But after 
the revelation has been received, we can see how 
very reasonable it is. 

So, too, is it with the mystery of creation. 
Without the revelation we should be in the same 
boat with M. Bergson, tortured with the prob- 
lem as to why anything should be. But, know- 
ing the fulness and the richness of the divine 
fecundity, we have no difficulty in looking to 
God's Will as the reason for the existence of 
creation. 

Since God is the only necessary being, the 
only perfect and full actuality, all other beings 
must owe their existence to Him. Nor are 
they made out of His substance. His perfect 
actuality, simplicity and unchangeableness ex- 
cludes that supposition. They must, therefore, 
be made out of nothing. And when in this con- 
text, we use the word " nothing " we do not mean 
" something." The nought is not a sort of half- 
defined blue jelly out of which things were made. 
It is merely the term from which things begin 
to be. The word " nothing " simply means not- 
being. 



202 BERGSON 

Our apology for making such crude remarks 
is that M. Bergson, in his characteristic way, 
juggles with the word " nothing," endeavouring 
to show that, through misuse of the word, the 
problem of existence is but a pseudo-problem. 
Hitherto, he says, man has had a false idea of 
the nought. If only we could get rid of the false 
idea of the nothingness, then the problem as to 
why anything should exist would vanish. 

Through twenty-six highly decorative pages * 
of literature M. Bergson labours to show up this 
false idea of nothingness. The idea of " noth- 
ing " is either an image, or a positive idea, or 
a negative idea. Quite easily he disposes of 
the first two suppositions, and incidentally paints 
a word-picture of " nothing " which is worthy 
of a frame and a place in a post-impressionist 
gallery. We quite agree with him in his con- 
tention that we can neither form an image of 
" nothing," nor identify it with " something." 

We disagree with him, however, when he 
contends that we cannot have even a negative 
idea of " nothing." 

" To sum up," he says, " for a mind which 

* Creative Evolution^ pp. 288-3 1 4. 



THE DIVINE FECUNDITY 203 

should follow purely and simply the thread 
of experience, there would be no void, no 
nought, even relative or partial, no possible 
negation. Such a mind would see facts 
succeed facts, states succeed states, things 
succeed things. What it would note at each 
moment would be things existing, states 
appearing, events happening. It would live 
in the actual, and, if it were capable of 
judging, it would never affirm anything ex- 
cept the existence of the present." "^ 

Here we must answer with a distinction. We 
grant that an absolute nought cannot be affirmed. 
We deny that an absolute nought cannot be 
thought. The absolute nought is a being of the 
mind {ens rationis), not being amongst things 
which appear and happen {ens reale). Our 
whole contention throughout these studies has 
been that the real is that which exists whether 
the mind knows about it or not. So, too, the 
unreal is that which does not exist, notwith- 
standing whether the mind thinks about it or 
not. Hence we can think of the nought, without 
the nought having any objective reality. The 

* Creative Evolution, p. 310. 



204 BERGSON 

absolute nought is a pure figment of the 
mind. 

With this distinction before him let the reader 
go through M. Bergson's last statement and 
notice the logical fallacy uttered in every word. 
The fallacy is known as the illicit transit from 
the ontological to the logical order. Thus the 
author asks us to follow the thread of concrete 
experience ; to observe that facts succeed facts, 
states succeed states, and things succeed things ; 
to notice that there is no " nought " in the realm 
of reality; and then to jump to the conclusion 
that there can be no " nought " in the realm of 
abstractions. Of course this logical fallacy 
arises from the previous psychological fallacy 
of confusing abstract thought with concrete 
feeling. 

Once again St. Thomas has anticipated the 
difficulty and answered it. Discussing the ques- 
tion as to whether truth is commensurate and 
identical with being, he thus formulates his 
objection : 

" That which extends to being and non- 
being is not identical and commensurate 
with being. But truth extends to being and 
non-being ; for both statements are equally 



THE DIVINE FECUNDITY 205 

true, that what is is, and what is not is not. 
Therefore, truth and being are not identical 
and commensurate." 

To this difficulty he replies as follows : 

" Non-being has not got that in itself 
whereby it may be recognised. Still it may 
be recognised in so far as the intellect 
renders it knowable. Hence truth is only 
based on non-being in so far as non-being 
is a being of the reason, that is in so far as 
it is apprehended by the reason." "^ 

Then if we turn to the Contra Gentes we shall 
find passages which might have been expressly 
written to refute the philosophy of change. 

" Hence appears the futility of arguments 
against creation drawn from the nature of 
movement or change — as that creation 
must be in some subject, or that not-being 
must be transmuted into being ; for creation 
is not a change but is the mere dependence 
of created being on the principle by which 

* Stwima, p. I, qu. xvi., a. 3., ad 2m. The Latin is more apt 
than English for manipulating the verb "to be." Id quod extendit 
ad enSy et non ens, non convertitur cum ente : sed vernm se extendit ad 
ens et non ens : nam verum est, quod est esse, et quod non est non esse : 
er^o verum et ens non convertunutr. 



2o6 BERGSON 

it is set up, and so comes under the category 
of relation : hence the subject of creation 
may very well be said to be the thing 
created. Nevertheless, creation is spoken 
of as a " change " according to our mode 
of conceiving it, inasmuch as our under- 
standing takes one and the same thing 
to be now non-existent and afterwards 
existing." ^ 



So St. Thomas was quite aHve to the tendency 
of the human mind to regard " nothing " as 
"something." But, on the other hand, he was 
not such a muddled thinker as to be beguiled 
into confusing the " nought " of thought with 
the "nought" of reality. The "nought" of 
thought must of necessity be retained to desig- 
nate the non-being from which, through the 
activity of the all-active Creator, creation began 
to be. 

Thus the last fallacy of the philosophy of 
change is seen to spring from the same source 
as the first and all intervening ones, namely, the 
denial of the validity of human intelligence. If 
we maim the natural instrument of thought, then 

♦ Contra Gentes, Lib. 1 1 . Cap. XVIII. See also Caj>. XIX. 



THE DIVINE FECUNDITY 207 

we must not be surprised if we see things upside 
down or inside out. If we destroy intelligence, 
the faculty of truth, then we must not expect 
to enjoy that repose and satisfaction which comes 
only of the contemplation of truth. 

But, on the other hand, if we resolutely deter- 
mine that we will not prostitute our reason, but 
that we will keep it enthroned as the ruler of 
life, then we may hope to make the best of Hfe. 

Through intuitive reason we can see the first 
principles of knowledge, that things are what 
they normally appear to be, that every effect 
must have a cause, and that no effect is greater 
than its cause. 

Through discursive reason we can argue back 
to the uncaused cause of all causes, to the 
pure actuality whence comes all participated 
actuality, to that infinitely fecund Life which is 
the Life of life. Does M. Bergson tell us that 
by turning away from intelligence and turning 
to animal instinct we shall get into touch with 
life? Pooh! Does he tell us that by retracing 
the steps which reason has laboriously cut out 
for us we shall attain to the highest life ? Pooh ! 
Pooh ! It might take us to the life of time. But 
that is not what we happen to want. We want 



2o8 BERGSON 

the life of eternity, the perfect possession, wholly 
and all at once, of life without end. And that 
happens to consist of intellectual knowledge, 
the knowledge of the only true God and of Jesus 
Christ whom He has sent. 



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